Judicial aid much needed

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, February 12, 2008

While all of Shelby County is appreciative of Alabama Supreme Court Chief Justice Sue Bell Cobb&8217;s requested for Judge William D. Owings to hear cases in Jefferson and Shelby County one or two days a week, a fast-growing county like ours needs a long-term solution to its growing court caseload problem.

According to census information released in 2006, the county&8217;s population is estimated to be around 178,000 people.

For years, the Shelby County Board of Education has noted an increase in its schools of 1,000 students per year.

Such growth cannot come without consequences such as a greater need for housing, police and an adequate court system.

Traffic filings more than doubled from 6,940 in 2003 to 14,571 in 2006.

There was also a 42 percent increase in juvenile complaints during the same time span.

We agree with State Rep. Cam Ward (R-Alabaster) that Owings will help ease an overflowing docket of cases. But, as Ward correctly states, a part-time judge is not a permanent or long-term solution.

We hope that others will work with Ward to find the revenues to provide another full-time judge for our county.

Ward recently proposed an additional district judge, but before such a thing can happen, the Alabama Administrative Office of Courts must approve a new judgeship, Cobb must give her blessings and the matter must pass the state Legislature.

We think it is long overdue that some action be taken to ease the caseload on Shelby County&8217;s current judges