New judge needed

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Everyone gets his or her day in court &045;&045; or at least a few minutes.

In recent years, the number of cases in Shelby County District Court has more than doubled.

Traffic tickets and small civil cases alone have risen from 6,940 in 2003 to 14,571 in 2006. Adding to the backlog

is a 42 percent increase in the number of juvenile cases, funneled by a rise in minor alcohol consumption.

Such a fast hike in caseload has resulted in overflowing dockets and jam-packed courtrooms, which stresses court resources and personnel.

The county&8217;s two district judges, Ron Jackson and Jim Kramer have done an outstanding job of providing fair and equal justice in the most efficient way possible.

However, overflowing courtrooms and heavy workloads do affect the judicial system and will have consequences if not corrected.

Each case deserves it&8217;s own time in court. Our judges shouldn&8217;t have to cut corners or look for ways to expedite the legal process.

The only realistic way to remedy the overwhelming number of cases, without compromising how things operate, is to add an another judgeship to Shelby County district court.

State Rep. Cam Ward (R-Alabaster) has introduced legislation that would add a third district judge in Alabama&8217;s fastest growing county. The bill has the backing of the entire Shelby County legislative delegation and has received positive feedback from Chief Justice Sue Bell Cobb.

But before another post can be added to the ballot in 2008, it must be approved by the state Office of Courts, Cobb and the State Legislature.

Ward remains optismistic that help is on the way, and it can&8217;t come soon enough