Measures taken after March 2020 to stem the spread of COVID-19 included shutdowns of many court operations, including jury trials. Unfortunately, crime continued unabated.
As a result, the 14th Circuit Solicitor’s Office confronted a record 5,745 pending cases by the end of May 2021. If the office were to continue disposing of cases at the same rate as it has in years immediately preceding the pandemic, it would take seven years just to clear the backlog and return the number of pending cases to pre-pandemic levels.
However, Solicitor Duffie Stone has a plan to reduce the backlog much faster and to provide monthly updates like this one to track our progress.
In July 2021, the number of pending cases grew again, to 5,927. However, for the second consecutive month, we disposed of more cases circuit-wide than we did the month before, clearing 162 and further slowing the rate of the backlog’s growth. We’ve accomplished this despite vacancies in three of the four assistant solicitor positions that are part of the office’s plan to reduce the backlog. (Three additional attorneys should be on board by November.)
This chart shows the most recent performance, with total cases shown in the top line in blue, new cases in red and the number of closed or “disposed” cases in yellow.
For historical context, this chart shows our pre-pandemic reduction in overall pending cases …
… and this chart demonstrates the emergence of the backlog during the pandemic.