In Commissioners Court on Monday, a Justice of the Peace for Lubbock County raised concerns about a significant backlog in her precinct’s cases.
Judge Susan Rowley of Precinct Two said she has a backlog of about 26,000 cases, including 16,000 criminal and 7,000 civil. The oldest dated back to 2000, she said.
“My jaw dropped,” Rowley said. “The thing that bothers me the most is when I’m looking at the spreadsheet. Many of these really really old cases still have warrants.”
This means people with an active warrant could be getting arrested even for cases beyond the statute of limitations and should have been dismissed.
Cases through the Justice of Peace must have a complaint filed for them within two years or they fall beyond the statute of limitations and need to be dismissed. Rowley said about 15,000 of her cases fall into this category.
Tommy Brummett, an assistant district attorney for the Lubbock District Attorney’s office, said that is unlikely.
“There are certain rules and mechanisms to make sure people don’t languish in there until somebody gets around to those cases,” he said. “Generally speaking, with some exceptions, you cannot incarcerate someone for a traffic ticket.”
The district attorney’s office will help Rowley dismiss the thousands of cases that are beyond the statute of limitations, in order to get her precinct back on track.
“We will be signing dismissals and those cases will be reduced and taken off that list,” he said.