WRAL Documentary Examines North Carolina’s Overcrowded Courts

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WRAL Documentary Examines North Carolina’s Overcrowded Courts
Airs Wednesday, December 7th at 7:30pm

Focal Point Overcrowded courtrooms, long delays in getting cases tried, more plea bargains and more dismissals. Is justice really being served in North Carolina’s courts? That’s the question being explored in the new WRAL Focal Point documentary “Trials and Tribulations”. The documentary examines the consequences of a judicial system that court officials say is overwhelmed. WRAL News anchor David Crabtree hosts the program, which airs Wednesday, December 7, 2005, at 7:30pm.

North Carolina has continued to grow. The Hispanic population has continued to grow.  The caseload continues to grow, and we get no additional resources, “ says Durham District Judge Craig Brown who often handles more than 300 cases a day in his courtroom.

As North Carolina has grown over the last decade so has the number of cases in its courts. Judicial officials say funding for the courts has not kept pace with that increased caseload and as a result court staff cannot give some cases the attention they deserve and must delay others for months or years. In criminal court it can mean a defendant who should be locked up is on the streets instead. In civil court it can mean long delays in child custody and support cases. The problem has gotten so bad that the Chief Justice of North Carolina’s Supreme Court has threatened to shut down some civil courts so the criminal courts can reduce their case backlogs.

In “Trials and Tribulations” a crime victim and a mother trying to settle a child custody case talk about their experiences with an overwhelmed court system. The program also takes you inside some of North Carolina’s most crowded courtrooms and lets you hear from judges, district attorneys and others who say they often don’t have enough resources to see that justice is properly served.

About Focal Point
Trials and Tribulations is the ninth episode in the WRAL documentary series called Focal Point. These in-depth news documentaries focus on a single topic, bringing depth and clarity to complicated issues facing North Carolina. From North Carolina’s economy and environment, to health care and race relations – Focal Point takes viewers inside the lives of the people most affected. Focal Point tackles the tough questions with leaders and policymakers who have the power to effect change. WRAL News anchors, including David Crabtree, Pam Saulsby, Bill Leslie, Gerald Owens and Debra Morgan, host the series. Six to eight new episodes of Focal Point will be produced each year.

Thanks to WRAL-TV’s Clay Johnson for this capcom story.

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