Jackson County Wants Additional Judge

According to to court data, Jackson County Circuit Court ranks fifth when it comes to the amount of cases filed across the state.

Posted: Jan 23, 2019 7:36 PM

MEDFORD, Ore. -- Jackson County Circuit Court judges want an additional judge to lessen the docket load.

According to to court data, Jackson County Circuit Court ranks fifth when it comes to the amount of cases filed across the state. In 2018, Jackson County saw 26,268 cases filed.

Top five counties for total cases filed:

1. Multomah: 454,216

2. Marion: 33,663

3. Lane: 33,112

4. Washington: 28,658

5. Jackson: 26,268

Top five counties for juvenile cases:

1. Multnomah: 1,390

2. Lane: 969

3. Marion: 886

4: Washington: 859

5. Jackson: 831

"That's a tremendous number of cases for a county of this size," Presiding Judge Tim Gerking said. 

Gerking says an additional judge would help with juvenile cases. The county also ranks fifth in the amount of juvenile cases, coming in at 831 cases filed.

CASA of Jackson County often has volunteers in the courtroom during juvenile proceedings. Wenonoa Spivak, the deputy director of CASA of Jackson County, says an additional judge would be a huge help. 

"Jackson County has highly complex cases and it would be wonderful to have another judge on the bench who could spend more time on each case," Gerking adds.

She adds the existing judges are doing an excellent job, but that she thinks each case could use more attention. She adds judges right now can only spend 15 to 20 minutes on each case because of the workload. Gerking said they don't put a time limit on cases, and sometimes have to extend them. This creates an hours-long waiting period, or sometimes hearings are rescheduled. 

Spivak said an additional judge would help take some of the pressure off. 

"That would really help our CASAs and our community partners understand that the judge has spent the amount of time he or she thinks is important for that particular case," Spivak said. 

Oregon's Chief Justice recommended about $4.5 million for additional judges and staff across the state. Gerking says so far, so good.

"The judicial department is advocating for that and the [Oregon Judicial Department] is supporting Jackson County's need for an additional judge."

Gerking adds in a perfect world, Jackson County would recieve more than one judge. But, he adds, that would require a remodel of the justice building to make room for an additional courtroom. 

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