Franklin County judge to potentially dismiss hundreds of misdemeanor cases

Published: Nov. 5, 2021 at 5:37 PM EDT
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ST. ALBANS, Vt. (WCAX) - A Franklin County judge has pushed to toss hundreds of criminal cases to relieve a pandemic backlog.

Franklin County Superior Court Judge Martin Maley Thursday signed an order that could drop these cases to help relieve a more than 2,400 case backlog.

The pandemic backlog shut down jury trials for 18 months. Normally, the court has 400 cases on its docket, but it now has about six times that. The cases to be thrown out are all misdemeanor offenses including driving with a suspended license, unlawful trespassing, and drug possession. The state says some of the cases are so old that witnesses have died or moved. Once they get dismissed, it will help clear the way for more serious offenses to be resolved.

Franklin County State’s Attorney Jim Hughes says he doesn’t want the work of his office and police investigators to go to waste, but admits it is a fair way to help the court move forward. “To treat crime victims from here on out better, we need to be more prompt and we can’t have a 3,000 case backlog keeping people away from their hearings or their trials for years,” he said.

Hughes and public defenders will have time to go through all the proposed dismissals to make sure there are none serious enough to go to trial.

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