A plan to create a new Dallas County criminal court to move certain felony cases that are clogging dockets and crowding the jails hit a significant roadblock after a key judge said he and most of the other judges do not support it, reports the Dallas Morning News. Opposition from Judge Robert Burns of the Criminal District Court No. 1 could be enough to doom the new court. Judges are responsible for managing their dockets and have sole authority over cases in their courts.
Burns told commissioners that the new court is an unnecessary expense and that the existing 17 criminal district courts can handle the caseload. He said he and the other judges are willing to transfer cases that are ready for trial to whichever judge at the time can hear them. His opposition led to a heated exchange with Commissioner John Wiley Price, who helped craft the new court idea last month during an emergency meeting of county criminal justice officials. Price asked Burns why he and the other judges hadn’t already been transferring cases among themselves that are ready for trial. “You are the problem,” Price told Burns repeatedly. Officials estimate the new court would cost $420,400 a year.