JUSTICE DELAYED: Clark County courts most overworked in state

Full Article

News and Tribune on 10/29/2016 by Elizabeth DePompei

When Kimmy Trotter left the funeral home more than a year ago, she knew that half the battle of crushing loss was still ahead. Her brother, Darren Cave, was accused of killing their father and there would be months, if not years, of criminal proceedings.

Her father, 60-year-old Earl Cave, was found dead in his Jeffersonville home Oct. 8, 2015. Earl’s only son quickly became a suspect and was brought in for questioning by the next morning, a Saturday. That Monday was a federal holiday and by Tuesday, Darren was formally charged with murder. Two days later he was ordered to remain in the Clark County jail without bond, online court records show.

But since then, the case against Trotter’s brother has slowed. A jury trial was scheduled and canceled four times. Varying mental health assessments have been ordered and filed around six times, the most recent in August. Meanwhile, Darren’s family — which includes his mother and three sisters — continues to anguish over the loss of not one, but two family members.

“It is more torment and torture,” Trotter said of the year since the criminal case began. “There’s got to be a way to punish the accused without punishing the entire family. It just it feels wrong. They gotta be quicker and more thorough about it.”

Darren’s case was the only murder case filed in Clark County in 2015. Nearly 24,000 other cases were filed in the same year, including criminal, civil, juvenile and probate cases. Each type of case requires a different amount of time in and out of the courtroom. And in Clark County, there simply aren’t enough judges and magistrates to fill the needs for those cases, according to a recent assessment conducted by the Indiana Judicial Conference’s Judicial Administration Committee, or JAC, and the National Center for State Courts. That means cases can take longer, the accused may sit in jail or be released in the meantime, and the families of victims wait for answers.