Shawnee Co. DA Discovers Nearly 4000 Backlogged Cases

By: 13 News
By: 13 News

Nearly 2000 criminal cases may be dropped because of a backlog in the Shawnee County District Attorney's office.

New DA Chad Taylor discussed the numbers Friday in a meeting with media to review his administration's policies.

Taylor says a review of pending cases back to the year 2000 shows 3,955 with no decision made on whether to prosecute or decline charges. He says it appears the most serious of those involve allegations of sexual assault.

The time frame covers all of Robert Hecht's administration and the final year Joan Hamilton was DA.

Taylor says he may not be able to even consider 1,724 of those cases because the five-year statute of limitations will have run out.

Taylor says his office is pursuing an aggressive plan to deal with the backlog. He says he'd like to clear the pending cases as soon as possible, but, realistically, he expects it will take until the end of the year.

Taylor says he has placed a goal of ensuring the backup doesn't grow. He has a goal of making charging decision on all new cases within 48 hours.

To help meet that goal, Taylor is reviewing whether he might need to request additional staff. The Shawnee County DA's office currently has 23 assistant prosecutors. In addition, Taylor is exploring whether he might need to stagger shifts, so some people would come in earlier in the morning while others would work later into the evening.

Taylor says his staff was unable to examine cases prior to 2000. In an interview with Hecht following his November 2000 election, he told 13 News he was entering the office with a backlog of 4600 cases.

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