• Prosecutors cut into backlog of cases during special session

    By: Mark Becker

    Updated:

    CHARLOTTE, N.C.,None - Prosecutors in Charlotte have spent the past three weeks cutting into a backlog of cases that have been piling up for years.

    The cases -- about 500 of them -- are mostly DWI cases in which defendants have been convicted by a judge and are appealing their convictions, asking for a jury trial.

    Mecklenburg County District Attorney Andrew Murray arranged for a special three-week session to handle those appeals, and the Administrative Office of the Courts assigned a retired judge to hear those cases exclusively.

    In three weeks, prosecutors say they were able to clear more than 50 of them -- most with guilty pleas or cases being sent back to district court for judgment.

    "That's a huge number," said prosecutor Anna Greene, who is in charge of the team of prosecutors handling the cases.

    Many times, Greene said, defendants have appealed their cases hoping they would go away.

    “I think that there is a philosophy of let's just wait it out -- if the witnesses leave or the officer resigns," she said.

    Defense attorneys disagree, saying the problem is that tough state sentencing guidelines leave many defendants with nothing to lose by appealing.

    "Suggesting that it's done to dodge the system with the age of that case -- that it's going to go away -- is absurd," defense attorney Brad Smith said.

    Greene said they hope to have another special session for those appeals if the Administrative Office of the Courts approves.

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