Aiken solicitor to work through case backlog

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News 12 at 6 o'clock, January 28, 2008

AIKEN CTY, S.C. --- Thousands of cases are sitting in one South Carolina Solicitor's Office. That could be changing in a court case clean up. Some cases are being dismissed as part of 2008 pledge.

Solicitor Barbara Morgan admits the court system has mistakes and needs to be tweaked. Now, she is looked to clean house and you won't believe how far back some of these old cases date.

Almost 6 years ago, Aiken County investigators arrested Williams Hicks. It's still a pending case in the Solicitors Office.

"It is not ethically allowed for us to comment about pending cases. It wouldn't be right. It's not right and it's just not something we can do," says Morgan.

So, the case will sit for now. But as for the other cases, those with unserved warrants, it's time to clean house.

"It's not right for someone to be arrested on a check charge that's 12 years old that maybe the business isn't in existence anymore," says Morgan.

A perfect example is the case right on top, grand larceny.

"A grand larceny that's 20 years old and it might not be where it's prosecutable. So, we're purging those files. Some of it is 7 years old, but he's serving 12 years in North Carolina. Another one, he's serving a life sentence in Georgia. There is no reason to go forward," says Morgan.

One cased looked at dating all the way back to the 1970's. And it's not just a time issue. Since the summer, Morgan's office has checked criminal records on all cases with people who failed to appear in court.

"They could be in California. They could be somewhere else. So, we're systematically looking at them and going through them," says Morgan.

So far, about 150 cases have been thrown out. The reason for this case clean up is the Solicitors Office is looking at ways to do business better. But it does not mean some outstanding warrants won't be served.

"Let's make sure the ones they serve are ones that are viable to be prosecuted. So, that means, we all got to do a little housekeeping," says Morgan.

Morgan hopes the housecleaning will allow her office and Magistrates to make better decisions on what cases to pursue. And, to add some confidence into the legal system. There are still about 4 boxes of cases to go through.

Some cases with outstanding warrants are being pursued. It all depends on the seriousness of the offense, if the officer is still around and if the evidence is still there.

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