In a court system that often frustrates everyone from victims to defendants with how slowly it operates, one courtroom in Mecklenburg County is doing just the opposite.
The so-called "fast track" courtroom often handles cases that could take years to be resolved in two or three months.
Take, for example, the case of My Pham. In February, he walked into a Walgreens on South Boulevard on two consecutive nights demanding prescription drugs.
He'd been sitting in jail for two months already and was facing the prospect of a year or more before his case came to court. Pham let his attorney know he was ready to take a plea sooner than later.
"He was very remorseful for what he'd done and wanted to get the matter over with," said Tim Gore, who represented Pham in his "fast track" plea deal on Friday.
Pham pleaded guilty to two counts of common law robbery and was sentenced to 17 months in prison.
It's the same reason that many defendants tell their attorneys they want their cases on the fast track.
"They understand the situation that they're in, they're accepting responsibility -- they're willing to plead guilty," said Catherine El-Khouri, who collects all of the fast track requests in the Public Defender's office and takes them to her counterpart in the District Attorney's office, who decides if they will make a quick plea offer.
"We want to take into account our victims who are out there...we want to make sure we contact them," said Ellie Coludro. She said more often than not, victims are also glad to get their cases resolved quickly, and when they do, the court and jail system both save time and money.
"There's a lot that goes into prosecuting a case, and if we can go ahead and get those early resolutions it's a good thing for the community," Coludro said.
"Because every day that saves somebody sitting in jail, it saves the taxpayers money because it costs about $100 a day to have someone sitting in custody," added El-Khouri.
Not every case is eligible for the fast track program. Coludro said they will not take serious violent assaults, rapes, murders, armed robberies or domestic violence cases.
The fast track courtroom is in session every three weeks, with a dozen or more cases on the docket each time -- clearing that court and jail time for other cases.