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Rock Island Co. Court System Works to Reduce Case Backlog

Michelle O'Neill
Rock Island County Justice Center Annex (file)

The old Rock Island County courthouse may be demolished soon. And some people have taken to social media to ask why when the court system needs space and there's a backlog of cases.

Chief Judge Clarence Darrow says the court has been working through a "modest backlog of cases" due, in part, to the COVID-19 pandemic.

He says other reasons for the backlog include:

  • Difficulty recruiting and retaining employees such as public defenders, state's attorneys, and clerks
  • Fewer trial lawyers
  • And more civil cases going to trial instead of settling out of court.
Chief Judge in Illinois' 14th Court Circuit, Clarence M. Darrow
Rock Island County Court Administration
Chief Judge in Illinois' 14th Court Circuit, Clarence M. Darrow

Since early 2020, Judge Darrow says all the offices within the court system have been coordinating with each other, using what he calls "proactive court scheduling" and remote hearings.

And he's optimistic that the backlog will be cleared within a year.

Historic preservation advocates and others have expressed their desire for the 125-year-old courthouse to be renovated or sold to a developer. But the Rock Island County Board plans to continue with its 2018 decision to demolish it.

Officially, Michelle's title is WVIK News Editor. She does everything there is to do in the newsroom and whatever may be needed around the radio station.