A lot of dust has been kicked up in this race. We took a close look at what we believe to be the pertinent facts and what appears to be fiction.
BAD NEWS/GOOD NEWS: GALVESTON COUNTY JP COURT CASE BACKLOG IS VERY HIGH BUT HAS COME DOWN 20%
First, it’s important to understand the role of the JP courts. These are the venues wherein truancy, traffic violations, evictions but also misdemeanors from the petty to the serious are presented. And there’s a lot of them. So long as they are being handled efficiently so be it. But the chart below, as sourced from data provided by the State of Texas, Office of Court Administration, compares the Galveston Justice Courts case backlog to counties with similar population for the calendar year 2013 and shows potential problems.
The data suggests the Commissioners Court was right to make the recent changes, as it shows that we’ve got the most Justice Courts of our peers but still the highest case backlog- as in, changes are needed to incent greater productivity and efficiency. We’re optimistic those changes will spur the improvements needed.
Next, we took a closer look at the Galveston County JP Courts.We looked in detail at only the criminal cases because civil cases included truancy. Truancy cases are a special thing – very high volumes, very high rate of dismissals – and so they skew the overall data.
What we observed is that the backlog has come down substantially but is still very high compared to the peer group. With election season in full swing, seemed appropriate to us to look closely at such things as we review candidates.
BAD NEWS: JP 7 CRIMINAL CASE BACKLOG UP 15%
Maybe you’ve received some direct mail from incumbent Justice Toni Randall touting her “Great Record”. Jude Randall’s messaging is very specific about her “First Term Accomplishments”, namely “Reduced the backlog of cases to make the docket current”. Contrary to Judge Randall’s advertising, the official state records show her Justice of the Peace Court Precinct 7’s criminal backlog has increased by 15%. The chart below provides the summary.
Most of Randall’s peer courts substantially reduced backlog in 2013, contributing to the overall decline in criminal backlog of 20% shown in the first chart.
Kemah Hardware is an Excellent Local Business
We feel compelled to mention that Judge Randall’s business is a fine establishment. We encourage anyone to patronize that business; we do often. But we’re suggesting our friends vote for Alison Cox.