A second Dallas County justice of the peace new to the bench will have thousands of cases never cleared have to be dismissed by District Attorney John Creuzot.
However, the judge is still left with thousands of other cases that can’t be dismissed and must be heard.
New Justice of the Peace Katina Whitfield told FOX 4 that her office is overflowing with 15,000 old cases that would have to be dismissed because previous judges did not do their work.
Judge Margaret O’Brien's justice of the peace court is facing a similar problem. Justice that has been delayed is finally being delivered.
“Today is the first day we have a double eviction docket,” the judge said. “So we have 10 to 12 and then we have another eviction docket from 2 to 4.”
O’Brien is working double time to try and bring down the backlog of eviction cases.
“When I started, I was hearing day one about 40 to 50 eviction cases. Day one, which was January 2,” she said.
O'Brien called FOX 4 after Judge Whitfield’s story. She was forced to dismiss more than 15,000 cases, from traffic tickets to hot checks dating to the late 90s, because previous administrations did not do their work.
Five years of misdemeanor cases will have to be dismissed by Creuzot in O’Brien's court. But eviction cases cannot be easily thrown out.
“You have to hear them all,” O’Brien said. “It’s not a simple look at the paperwork or anything. The people get a chance to plead their defense.”
O’Brien will hear 2,400 more cases than usual because of the backlog left behind.
Dallas County Commissioner John Wiley Price brought the JP courts’ problem up in commissioner’s court.
“We are talking about people whose lives are jacked up,” Price said.
Dallas County Budget Director Ryan Brown told commissioners part of the problem was the previous judge who just didn't care anymore.
“When the judge did not win his primary, so he knew he wasn't going to be re-elected way back in March, so he really stopped doing several things that a judiciary should be doing,” Brown said.
“We're dealing with it now. We're trying to get through it efficiently as possible,” O’Brien said. “The constable is also donging that because that ups their citation. I mean they have to out and physically serve these people so it causes quite a bit of issues.”
The county going to all new justices of the peace and providing additional county support staff should they have the same issues.