Jefferson County Prosecuting Attorney Mark Taylor received approval to begin looking for a temporary contract attorney to assist with the backlog of cases the office is facing in the wake of COVID-19 setbacks.
Taylor approached commissioners April 19 with concerns on the number of cases their office had, stating there were between 245 and 300 cases, that have been on hold with the stopping of jury trials due to COVID-19 restrictions.
“The challenge of the office has been getting an accurate number of cases,” Taylor said.
He stated that he thinks once the courts fully open again, it will open a flood gate of cases to address with everything sandbagging.
In anticipation of having that many cases to address quickly, Taylor stated he’d like to use the $50,000 they have in savings with the current budget to hire a temporary full-time attorney. Once the courts open back up, Taylor would like them to address minor cases like misdemeanors and traffic infractions to allow for deputy attorneys Serhiy Stavynskyy and Matthew Dyal to focus on larger criminal cases.
Public Defender John Stosich gave his input as well, stating that their office was facing the same issues Taylor’s office was and that they were looking into options as well to address the backlog.
“I’m concerned as well on the trial capability of our office,” Stosich said. “It’s going to take a lot of office effort and I appreciate the approach Mark is taking for his office.”
The commissioners discussed the need and the impact of COVID-19 on the caseload the offices were facing. Commissioner Shayne Young made a motion to allow Taylor to begin searching for a temporary attorney that the office could bring on once they received the notice that the courts would be opening up.
Taylor said being able to have someone lined up would be ideal as they would not have much notice to get things prepared once things opened. The motion was approved unanimously.