Ingham County court addressing backlog in jury trials

Published: Sep. 21, 2021 at 5:57 PM EDT
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LANSING, Mich. (WILX) - Courts across the country are trying to make up for time lost during the pandemic. In Ingham County, there are hundreds of jury cases awaiting trial in district court.

Richard Garcia, Chief Circuit and Probate Judge Ingham County court said, “Jury trials in Ingham County are going to happen and your day in court is coming.”

Jury trials were paused for the COVID-19 pandemic and now the court system is starting to dive into the backlog of cases.

Judge Garcia said, “The third quarter of 2019, for example, we had 64 cases that had been pending for 301 days. On the other side of the pandemic, we had 338 entries of cases that fit that description. If you want to look at it with simplicity we’re about 100 trials behind.”

One way the court is working to fix the issues is by hiring a new judge. The state court appointed retired Judge Geoffrey Neithercut to help take on the workload. He served for Genesee County Circuit Court for over 20 years and also served as a judge in flint’s district court for 8 years.

Judge Neithercut will be primarily work on jury trials and some sentencing hearings.

Judge Garcia said, “He will have pleas, he will provide sentencing he will get on to the process of healing for the victims and help us get us to the point where we can start holding folks accountable and get them to where they need to go.”

Judge Garcia tells News 10 it will take years to tackle the backlog. The next step for the court is to sift through the cases and prioritize criminal trials first.

Jury trials are expected to resume as soon as possible while still following COVID-19 protocols.

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