Unexpected Court Changes

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SALT LAKE CITY — Salt Lake County Courts are planning on making changes on how court cases are assigned.  This is creating major concerns among elected officials and Utah residents.

Traditionally, court cases are assigned geographically. This could soon change due to an overload number of cases in the Third Judicial District Court in West Jordan. 

“I absolutely share their concern that they need resources; the demographics are shifting.  We have caseloads that are going up; we have heavy caseloads, law enforcement has heavy caseloads, and they have heavy caseloads,” said Sim Gill, Salt Lake County District Attorney.

Court officials announced that they want to assign cases at random between the Third Judicial District Court in West Jordan and the Matheson Courthouse in downtown Salt Lake City.

These changes raise major concerns among elected officials, ranging from public defenders, prosecutors, city mayors and police enforcement.

“We’ve collected this data in the last month and the picture that it shows is one that it’s going to have a huge collateral impact on all these different law enforcement agencies,” said Gill.

It takes about 40 minutes to get from West Jordan to the Matheson Courthouse in downtown Salt Lake City using public transportation. Getting from one place to another is one of those concerns elected officials have regarding these changes.

“The impact it has on a single mom or on a victim or somebody who is working on an hourly wages.  It assumes that they have access to their own transportation, but when you have to navigate and lose time, either as a witness or as a victim, that’s real dollars that are going to cost to those families and to those individuals.  So the impact is quite profound.  We work in collaboration with law enforcement and local communities and the mayors and we are there to serve in the interests of our citizens,” said Gill.

These changes will take affect February 2020.  Court and public officials are working to find common ground to find a solution. 

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