COLUMBUS, Ga. (WRBL) — There is a massive backlog of cases in the Muscogee County courts system.

The state of Georgia has awarded the Chattahoochee Judicial Circuit nearly $2 million in federal funds. 

Chief Superior Court Judge Gil McBride says this is a good start. 

The funds will be used to address the logjam of serious cases – what the state calls the seven deadly offenses.

Murder. Rape. Armed robbery. Armed robbery with a firearm. Aggravated child molestation. Aggravated sodomy. Aggravated Sexual battery. 

As of late last year, there were 289 of these cases in the judicial system. That is a 137-percent increase year over year. 

And there were 63 murders a year ago. 

“You know, the bottom line with the spike in crime you have seen, that leads to more arrests, more cases awaiting trial,” McBride said.

There will also be more money to pay jurors so that cases to be tried more quickly. 

Will the murder trials jump to the front of the line? 

“That will be up to each judge,” McBride said. “On this sort of thing, each judge has the obligation under our rules to prioritize his or her docket. I can tell you what we will probably be doing is single defendant murder trials, maybe double defendant murder trials.” 

And this comes as the COVID restrictions for Georgia’s courts are still in place. 

“With the pandemic restrictions, we are still under for social distancing, masking, limited use of our courtrooms, we are probably going to have a hard time handling the larger multi-defendant cases for a while,” McBride said.

On Tuesday, a visiting judge was adamant that five co-defendants must stand trial beginning March 21st in the 2018 Pizza Hut parking lot murder of Branden Denson. 

Under the grant, new positions will be created in the district attorney’s office and Superior Court clerk’s office to work through this mountain of cases. 

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