Pender County courthouse to officially open Friday; over 2,000 cases on the court docket Wednesday
BURGAW, N.C. (WECT) - After almost three years, the Pender County courthouse will officially reopen on Friday.
It was damaged by Hurricane Florence in September of 2018.
“This is one of the most beautiful courthouses in all of North Carolina and we’re very excited to, you know, celebrate it’s official opening on Friday,” said Ben David, district attorney for New Hanover and Pender Counties. “Before that, we’re obviously operational. This is a courthouse that has long been the icon of Pender County and is clearly part of our town square and we’re thrilled that after three years it’s going to be coming back on the line officially on Friday.”
The courthouse opened back up to the public in late June, according to Pender County Clerk of Superior Court Elizabeth Craver, and opened up further to hold court on July 14th.
Wednesday marked the first administrative traffic session in the courthouse since the hurricane. Even with destruction from Hurricane Florence and the pandemic, the Pender County Clerks Office has a back log of zero cases.
On Tuesday, however, there were still more than 2,000 cases on the court docket. Craver said the court dockets are growing along with the county and that they brought in extra to be held today to keep things moving.
“We had numerous DAs that come from New Hanover up to Pender to help us along with the ones that we have already scheduled up here and between them and my clerks that we had in there and the deputies it — we went through it super fast. We had every one of our cases, except for what had to go in front of the judge, done by about 10:30, 10:45,” Craver said.
With the large number of cases, especially during the pandemic, David is encouraging those with what’s called “compliance-based dismissals” to take care of their cases online. Examples of compliance-based dismissals include registration and inspection violations, being in a traffic accident when you had insurance, or no operator’s license but now you have one. David said those cases “by and large get dismissed if we see the correct paper work.”
“So I really encourage people, that if those are the things that they are charged with, to try and not even come to court at this point, so we can cut down on the numbers that we are seeing,” David said. “We have over 50,000 tickets a year in this district and the only way to save court time for all the rape, murder, armed robbery that we see in Superior Court, and the DWIs and domestic violence we see in District Court, is to try and take a lot of these cases out of the system.”
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