Handling dozens and dozens of misdemeanor court cases isn't at all easy, especially for the West Point Municipal Court staff who often has to stay past 5 p.m. on Tuesday when cases are heard, working well into the evening hours on numerous cases.
But it's not only the excessive work placed on the Municipal Court staff that has prompted changes to how and when Municipal Court cases are heard. The wall to wall individuals who come to Municipal Court on Tuesday's cause the tiny courtroom inside the West Point Police Department to become very congested, and parking on Tuesday during court is always an issue.
Another issue for court personnel and officers having only one court day a week is that the courtroom only has two holding cells, which are tiny, so if many offenders are brought over from the Clay County Jail to have there cases heard, there's always concern as to where officers will hold inmates while other cases are going on.
Because of these issues, Municipal Court Judge Mark Cliett has begun holding court every second and fourth Friday in addition to the regular Tuesday court day.
West Point Chief of Police Tim Brinkley said Friday court sessions relieve pressure caused by the backlog of cases, and when cases come up that tend to be lengthy, court officials won't have to spend half their night on Tuesday trying to review and adjudicate cases.
“That's going to help us out a lot,” Brinkley said. “If there's a chance that a case may have to be heard or a special appearance may have to be set on the court docket for an offender, the judge could hear it on Friday, which would take some of the pressure off Tuesday's docket. Judge Cliett is really excited about how smoothly things are going on the Friday docket. It was something he thought about doing for years, but recently he saw the need to go ahead and try to implement it. There was a relative degree of apprehension, but after the first Friday court day he was pleased with the results.”
Last Friday marked the second week of the implementation of having court on Friday, which is the day initial appearances will mainly be done.
Cliett is also working closely on Friday with Clay County Misdemeanor Drug Court officials, referring some misdemeanor drug cases in the city over to Drug Court. Edward Houston, Clay County Drug Court director, is available on Fridays to take on drug related cases, which in turn takes more pressure off the staff of Municipal Court.