August 9, 2022


Let'S Talk Law

Backlog of scenarios straining Madison County legal method

EDWARDSVILLE — Madison County State’s Attorney Tom Haine and Community Defender Mary Copeland want to employ additional attorneys to take care of the backlog of criminal cases caused by the coronavirus pandemic and an raise in scenario filings in the course of the previous ten years.

At Friday’s Madison County Board Judiciary Committee assembly, Haine requested for 9 new lawyers whilst Copeland asked for a few. Chief Circuit Choose William Mudge and Madison County Circuit Clerk Tom McRae pointed out an boost in operate by all those places of work also will most likely involve far more staffing for theirs.

In accordance to county officers, all through the earlier 15 months numerous law enforcement departments held back again on submitting criminal instances. There also were being no jury trials for additional than a year.

Underneath current social distancing policies Madison County courts can only maintain one particular felony demo in the Criminal Justice Heart, and 1 civil trial in the Courthouse, at a person time. Mudge ideas to situation new policies this 7 days that may perhaps simplicity that.

The COVID-linked scenario expansion arrives on the heals of raising felony instances concerning 2010 and 2019 in Madison County. Each yr the range of felony situations in the county has risen by about 40 percent, officials stated.

Haine, who became state’s lawyer just after winning the November election, reported he has asked his section main to do an inside evaluation.

“We have an unreasonable selection of felonies for each felony lawyer,” he claimed. “The technique is maxed out. There is no additional extend in the rubber band.”

Haine explained the problem has been cumulative, noting a 40 percent enhance in felony filings at the exact time of a “net decrease” in the number of obtainable prosecutors.

“Right now each one particular of my prosecutors is assigned between 450 and 550 felonies,” he said. “That degree of assignment is unsustainable. You simply cannot go on to demand the stage of felonies that we are carrying out.”

Haine wishes to add nine new felony prosecutors. He also would like to increase a “post-conviction” professional, noting his business is not completed with a scenario at the time a verdict has been reached.

Adding the new staff members users would “drive the numbers down to about 300 for every felony prosecutor,” Haine stated, quipping that would signify they every single would have less cases than “days of the 12 months.”

He famous the large caseloads necessarily mean delays in prosecution.

“Justice delayed is justice denied,” Haine claimed. “It’s almost certainly a extended time coming, and it is exacerbated suitable now with the COVID crunch.”

“We consider it is time to re-energize the legal justice program in Madison County at a time when there is a nation-wide problem about criminal offense, and a regional worry about criminal offense,” he explained. “The citizens of Madison County deserve to have a criminal justice procedure that’s doing the job for them, that operates for them and has satisfactory assets to do so.”

Haine reported greater use of License Plate Reader cameras also will bring in far more circumstances. His workplace desires to have the methods to prosecute the scenarios, he stated, and the general public defender’s business demands added funding for protection.

Haine explained the increases are “big,” “appropriate” and “necessary.”

“In Madison County we charge crimes we prosecute crimes. Which is a excellent matter,” he reported. “We have to decide on to either be a powerful on criminal offense jurisdiction, or currently being pressured to say to nearby regulation enforcement that we do not have the assets to cost that criminal offense.”

Copeland is looking for at least three far more attorneys for the community defender’s place of work. Two of the new hires would be “low-level” and allow the generation of a Misdemeanor Section and allow for her attorneys to focuse on felonies, she stated.

“People are not beating down my door to be overworked, underpaid and largely disrespected by huge quantities of clients,” she reported. “The method requires the two sides have competent attorneys to shift items through.”

She stated her business presently has 700 various clients with misdemeanors most of the time individuals clients have multiple misdemeanors. The third legal professional would be for write-up-conviction perform.

Copeland stated the American Bar Affiliation has mentioned that general public defenders must have about 150 felony cases. In the Madison County business, she mentioned, they have about 230.

The county also is on the lookout at wherever to dwelling more lawyers.

Haine said that, simply because at minimum component of the problem has been brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic, county officers are looking into irrespective of whether American Rescue Prepare Act funding could be made use of for to address some of the fees.