Caseload Overload

Assistant Nacogdoches County District Attorney John Boundy has walked the courthouse halls for only three months. The former prison circuit prosecutor quickly recognized a major difference. "The number of cases per prosecutor in each of the courts is well above at least two times what I've seen in other counties," Boundy said.

Boundy cites national studies that show the best ratio is 200 to 300 cases per prosecutor. In Nacogdoches County caseloads climb to 450. "The cases are getting indicted, they're getting assigned to prosecutors, but then there's a bottle neck when there's not enough prosecutors to dispose of the cases," explained Boundy.

Before and during a trial prosecutors spend a lot of time going over research and every bit of available evidence. It's an evil necessity because it places other cases on the back burners. District Attorney Stephanie Stephens said, "All attorneys know every day in trial is a day out of the office. That's an entire day you're not getting other cases ready for trial, that you aren't contacting witnesses, that you aren't reviewing cases with police officers. There are a myriad of activities that have to be done on our cases. These that need to get done before we get to court."

Stephens is requesting a fourth assistant prosecutor. Prosecutors say help is needed because of,  "The people", said Boundy. "Because the people know that there's a revolving wheel if you will and as a result they know they're not gonna have cases reached in a timely fashion or they know the system isn't going to be grinding immediately on them and as a result the cat is away and the mice will play."

In Nacogdoches County in 2003 730 cases were presented to the grand jury. While in 2005 more than 1200 were presented. That's a 60% increase.   Cases waiting in the wings include murder for hire capital murder cases and capital murder cases  for the death of a child.