JACKSON, MS (WLBT) - Ward 1 Jackson City Councilman and attorney Jeff Weill has 28 years experience arguing cases in circuit courtrooms. He says the backlog of cases in Hinds Circuit Court is tremendous, and cases that should take six months are taking two years to get through the system.
"When folks are not processed through the system they're out committing other crimes," Weill says. "Circuit judges have tremendous power to move criminal cases along by denying continuances, to bringing the litigants in front of them, (and ask) why are we taking so long to get this done?"
Weill says he would work to clear the bottleneck at the local level, so convicted offenders would go where they belong. "We've got plenty of room at Parchman," he says.
Jackson Municipal Judge Ali AhamsidDeen sees things differently.
"In Hinds County, I don't think they just grant continuances to be doing it, I don't think they just grant continuances wantonly," he says. "Each case has its own set of circumstances. A judge is there to see that the opportunity to bring these circumstances forth in the courtroom is given equally to both sides."
ShamsidDeen attributes the backlog to an imbalance between the population of Jackson and the number of judges. "What we have is not enough judges, as evidenced by the fact they're appointing special judges," he says.
ShamsidDeen clerked in the Hinds Circuit Court system, and is also the public defender for Bolton.
Finally, Jackson personal injury and contract attorney Bruce Burton has vast experience in law. He agrees that there aren't enough circuit judges in Hinds County.
"The backlog of cases may be something that needs to be addressed by the legislature," he says. "The judge will have some discretion in his ruling. In that case he can make some leeway by making his decisions. The best thing he can do is make himself available, be diligent in his work."
Election day is Tuesday, November 2.
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