Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Collapsing under its own weight

The City of Houston Municipal Courts handled 1.2 million cases in 2009. Of those 1.2 million cases, defendants requested jury trials in 415,297 of them. The Houston Chronicle reported that there were 415,297 jury trials at 1400 Lubbock Street last year; Houston's "leading information source" was wrong. There are seven municipal courts that handle jury trials. In those seven courts, one case, at most, will go to trial each afternoon. Not taking holidays into account, there are approximately 260 working days in a year. If we are to believe the number reported, that means each of those seven courts conducted an average of 228 jury trials a day, every weekday, for the entire year.

The number reported by the Houston Chronicle is not the number of jury trials conducted, but, instead, the number of cases set on the courts' jury trial dockets. That means each court averaged approximately 228 cases on its docket each day.

And with our city attorney doing his best to make Governor Perry look like a genius and declaring that police officers needn't bother with showing up at 8:00 a.m. and making folks sit around the courthouse all day long, the Municipal Courthouse will soon collapse under its own weight.

Now just imagine what would happen if none of those 228 cases plead out during the morning session and that every defendant in that courtroom demanded a jury trial. Imagine 227 cases having to be reset in every court every day. Sure, the new policy is ridiculous and it attempts to coerce pleas by making people sit in a courtroom all day long but to watch the entire system come crashing down is priceless.

Now if you are offended by David Feldman's latest dumb idea and think that it's just plain wrong that you are expected to be in court at the time shown on your summons but that the police can show up whenever they damn well please, then give your mayor and city councilmembers a piece of your mind:

Mayor Annise Parker
(832) 393-0800 or (832) 393-1013

Brenda Stardig
(832) 393-3010

Jarvis Jordan
(832) 393-3009

Anne Clutterbuck
(832) 393-3004

Wanda Adams
(832) 393-3001

Mike Sullivan
(832) 393-3008

Al Hoang
(832) 393-3002

Oliver Pennington
(832) 393-3007

Ed Gonzalez
(832) 393-3003

James Rodriguez
(832) 393-3011

Stephen Costello
(832) 393-3014

Sue Lovell
(832) 393-3013

Melissa Noriega
(832) 393-3005

Clarence Bradford
(832) 393-3012

Jolanda Jones
(832) 393-3006

You might even want to drop Mr. Feldman a line at david.feldman@houstontx.gov.

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