Court’s Felony Backlog Cases Increase in February

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Baltimore City Circuit Court’s backlog of felony cases increased for the first time in six months following a two-month hiatus in jury trials that began at the end of 2021.

Last year ended with just over 1,460 backlogged felony cases as of Jan. 3, 2022, according to the Maryland Judiciary. As of March 1, that number has increased by 110 cases for a total of 1,574 cases.

The city courthouse backlog has steadily declined since September 2021 when the court was behind by nearly 1,950 felony cases. October saw a slight drop in the backlogged case count, with the steepest decline seen between November and December from 1,705 to 1,559 backlogged cases.

On Dec. 29, 2021, Chief Judge Joseph M. Getty issued an administrative order limiting in-person proceedings and postponing all jury trials. During the first week of the return of jury trials beginning March 7, Baltimore Witness’ data found approximately five out of 18 scheduled trials were postponed, four of which involved homicide cases.

“For me and other criminal defense attorneys in the city, we just go along with the process,” said defense attorney Warren Brown, who has worked in the courthouse for more than four decades. “The state’s attorney’s office has to be ready when the gun sounds. You can only try one case at a time, and as disorganized as the system is, cases are going to have to be postponed.”

The Maryland Judiciary attributed the rise in backlogged cases to the postponement of trials at the end of 2021 and the beginning of this year.

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