District courts get caught up on pandemic-created backlogs

Updated: Jun. 4, 2021 at 6:28 PM CDT
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JONESBORO, Ark. (KAIT) - Many court systems across the country face backlogs due to the COVID-19 pandemic, a problem District Judges across Region 8 say isn’t happening in northeast Arkansas.

District Judge Alex Bigger works in Lawrence, Randolph, and Sharp counties. He said they were able to get caught up on backlogs a few months ago, but they were behind on jury trials due to the COVID pandemic.

Those trials started back up recently.

“There were, I remember, a few court dates where we would have several trials back to back throughout the entire day,” Bigger said. “[It] can be kind of unusual for us here in Randolph County, usually we may have one or two, but we had several.”

Judge Bigger says he’s seen similar trends around Region 8 when it comes to catching up the backlogs, with several counties creating amnesty days for those who missed their original court date to reschedule.

Bigger says he has seen more people miss their court date and not pay their fines.

He also credited the state’s new district court system and using Zoom for virtual court to help the counties get fully caught up.

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