IN BRIEF: Proposed changes to Judge Sidney Nation's Superior Court calendar described during county budget hearings would increase the number of trial weeks - including upping the number of weeks for criminal trials and reducing the number of weeks for civil trials - and would increase the proposed budget requirements for supporting offices.
Currently, Judge Nation hears 10 weeks of civil trials and 10 weeks of criminal trials. The proposed calendar would change that to four weeks civil trials and 20 weeks criminal trials. Judge David Irwin's calendar would remain the same, with 10 weeks of civil and 10 weeks of criminal trials.
The Clerk of Court's office, District Attorney's Office, and Sheriff's Office were among the departments and agencies that said they would need more personnel and an increased budget to accomodate the Judge's proposed calendar changes.
During the budget hearing for the Clerk of Court's budget requests for 2012, Commissioner Oz Nesbitt said, "We're really in a Catch-22."
"The judge decides this is what he's going to do and it happens to be at a tough economic time in this county," said Nesbitt.
"The judge came in yesterday and pointed out he's going forward with this calendar because this is something he desires to do because he's bored. He's finding a week of time when he doesn't have anything to do. I asked him about the impact to the auxilliary offices, such as the clerk's office, the DA's office.
"He talked about the savings that we're going to get. I calculated that savings - it's going to be well beyond not six months, but nine months or a whole year before we're going to see any kind of savings getting those folks out of the jail."
He said the BOC had been considering ways to give county employees a raise.
"The judge walks in here yesterday, says 'Hey, this is not going to happen. I'm moving foward with this calendar. Yall figure it out and get it done.' Commissioners, we have some serious thinking to do as we consider the judge's desire because he's bored and wants get some of these folks moving though the system. He described it as a systemic issue."
"Are we going to stop talking about giving all our employees raises and spring into action and do what we're talking about?" asked Nesbitt.