The 10th Judicial District (10th JD) has grown by 6.5% over the past decade. The greater the population is, the greater the potential workload for the Criminal Court System.
The current population of the 10th JD is 226,315, while the land area is 1,878 square miles. It is about 86 miles (one way) from McDonald in Southern, Bradley County to Indian Boundary in Northern Monroe. Source Wikipedia (2022).
I am your Criminal Court Judge. The position is part of the circuit court, where felonies and jury trials are conducted. The responsibilities include a rotation of court sessions between Bradley, McMinn, Monroe, and Polk Counties. Cases start with an investigation by law enforcement. Charges are filed in the General Sessions Court. At the county sessions’ level, misdemeanors can be resolved. Felonies (or misdemeanors where the parties demand a jury trial) are bound over to the Grand Jury. Cases that come into Criminal Court are heard by Judge Freiberg and me. Over my term, I have worked hard to: hold offenders accountable, guard the rights of the victims, and offer help and alternatives to those that really want to change.
The reality is that the Judge is the facilitator and the referee. It is a team effort, and results depend on the entire system: law enforcement, district attorney general, public defender, defense attorneys, grand jury, jury members, witnesses, county clerks, probation & parole, and finally, the judiciary.
Filings for all types of cases bound over to Criminal court in the district are down from FY2014-15 by over 20% - this suggests overall crime is on a downward trend in the 10th JD and the filings are better than the State level.
Regarding the district, the backlog is not increasing, which is much better than the state average. This could suggest resources are allocated adequately across the district.
We may need to adjust the time that we are currently spending in each of the counties. However, this is not an easy fix, as courtrooms are shared, the number of judges is not going to change, and some do not like to run late at night. Currently 70 man-weeks (for 2 judges) per year of court are allocated to the 10th JD.
Putting challenges aside, some really good things have come out of Criminal Court, that specifically have to do with me, Sandra Donaghy. These initiatives save thousands of dollars for the county over incarceration expense, get help for offenders, and re-incorporate these individuals into society as productive members.