WILMINGTON, NC (WECT) - The New Hanover County district attorney wants to get a third district courtroom, potentially even a night court, up and running in Wilmington. He says there are so many cases moving through the system, they need to add capacity to handle the volume.
But not everyone is onboard with that idea, saying there just aren't enough resources to operate another courtroom.
On any given day, there can be 150-250 cases or more on the docket in each district courtroom. DA Ben David says the majority of those cases have to be continued, in part because it would be impossible for the judge, prosecutors, and defense attorneys to go through them all before the courthouse closes for the day.
"What I have respectfully suggested for a while now is that we create a third courtroom, particularly for the trials of…domestic violence and DWIs, because there continues to be a need to move those as quickly as we can," David explained.
Instead, some cases get continued again and again. As a result, it's not uncommon for defendants to be charged with committing the same crime again before their original case can be disposed of.
That's what happened recently in the high profile case of New Hanover County Commissioner Brian Berger, who is now facing a second charge of Driving While Impaired although his December 2012 DWI charge has yet to be disposed of.
Despite these issues, there is debate among courthouse officials about the need for a third courtroom.
Regardless of the need, Clerk of Courts Jan Kennedy says she simply doesn't have enough staff to run it.
David says he's as aware of staffing limitations as anyone, but insists the need for a third courtroom is there. "If they opened up another district courtroom for criminal cases, I'd fully staff it overnight," he said.
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