ST. LANDRY PARISH — Court systems can resume jury trials this week, after a year-long suspension because of the pandemic. The suspension has caused a backlog for court systems throughout the state, including Acadiana. However, in St.Landry Parish there was already a backlog.
"My administration inherited a huge number of backlog cases from the previous administration so we were somewhat familiar with backlog cases," District Attorney Chad Pitre said. "Coupled with that the COVID pandemic, we had several more hundred felony cases that are now backlogged."
Pitre estimates there are 6500 felony backlogs in St. Landry Parish and a few hundred extra related to the pandemic.
"Justice delayed, is justice denied," Pitre said. "It's so important for the victim and victims family to have their day in court. That's the bedrock of the country. We're looking forward to bringing justice."
Some felony cases considered less serious offenses, like drug charges and burglary could be dismissed if they're older cases.
"We've only been in office a little less than 3 months, but the cases we've inherited; some of them have prescribed; That term prescription, or prescribed is a legal term that states the prosecutor must bring a case in a specific amount of time or that cases must be dismissed. We're finding several of those," Pitre said. "You're more serious cases like murders do not prescribe. However, smaller felonies have prescribed and we'll be reviewing those."
He says they've assigned a specific prosecutor to handle backlog cases along with a support staff.
Statewide jury trials will resume starting Thursday.