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Bonneville County works to solve court backlog

By Luke Jones
Published On: Jan 22 2014 10:51:03 PM CST

People in Bonneville County rely on the court system to mete out justice. But lately that hasn't been happening as much as it should because the courts were clogged with misdemeanor cases.

IDAHO FALLS, Idaho -

People in Bonneville County rely on the court system to mete out justice. But lately that hasn't been happening as much as it should because the courts were clogged with misdemeanor cases.

At one point, there were over 100 pending misdemeanor cases awaiting trial—things like driving under the influence and trespassing.

County officials say a host of “temporary” problems were partly to blame for the backlog, but that there was also a bigger problem: a shortage of attorneys available to handle cases.

“We got a bottleneck is what I'm alluding to,” said Judge Steve Clark. “We had the courts available, but there were days when we had the courts, jury trials set, but we couldn't get the attorneys in there to get it done.”

Recently, the city hired two new public defenders to help with the backlog of cases. They're already down to just 61 cases awaiting trial.

Officials don't expect most of these cases to actually go to trial. Most typically result in plea bargains.

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