The County Superior Court has cleared its backlog on family law cases, announced Judge Mary Sue Wilson to the Board of County Commissioners on Monday, July 31.
Wilson attributed two ways they cleared the backlog; making it so that when jury trials for other cases could not proceed, judges were instead assigned to overflow cases in family law, and securing funding from the Washington State Administrative Office of the Courts that allowed them to hire pro tems who assisted them with settlement conferences and provided trial support.
The Superior Court is now working its way through civil and criminal cases. Wilson said the number of pending civil and criminal cases looks consistent with pre-COVID figures. Still, he noted that there was a significant drop in the filing of new cases when the pandemic started.
Wilson said there were two reasons that criminal cases dropped starting in 2020; namely the adjusted criteria for arrest, charging, and booking due to the pandemic, and the State v. Blake decision, which ruled the felony drug possession law unconstitutional and ultimately led to a drop in the number of case filings.
Wilson said that they anticipate both civil and criminal case filings to climb back up, especially with the removal of pandemic restrictions.
County Sherriff Derek Sanders published a letter on Friday, July 25, stating that Thurston County Correctional Facility would finally reopen on August 1.
Wilson also noted at the start of the meeting that their operations have not been affected by pandemic restrictions since late last year.
The Superior Court has completed 31 jury trials about halfway through the year, which is already around the total number of trials they did for 2022. The Superior Court now expects to complete twice the number of trials they did last year.
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