Fulton County State Court Judge Susan Forsling recently discovered she has a HUGE backlog of cases. In early May, Judge Forsling discovered hundreds of misdemeanor criminal files in the office her case manager Joel Schaffer. To date, the missing case files have led to 55 dismissals of criminal cases.
Fox Five Atlanta investigative reporter Dale Russell recently reported on the story. Mr. Russell’s report focused on an individual whose pending charges have languished due to the hidden or lost files. The story included a written statement from Judge Forsling. While the story is certainly news worthy and the backlog is a concern, Mr. Russell’s report sensationalized the severity of the crimes and the likely outcomes of the forgotten cases. As former Fulton County prosecutors, Peach State Lawyers W. Scott Smith and Daniel Farnsworth realize that many of those hidden cases would have resulted in dismissals when alleged victims failed to appear in court. The serious drug offenses which Mr. Russell focused are simply possession of marijuana less than one ounce. While there are certainly cases that languished which would be cause for concern, all of the cases have been deemed by our State Legislature to be misdemeanor offenses and not the more serious felony offenses which Mr. Russell seemed to want to make these charges.
Judge for yourself at: http://www.myfoxatlanta.com/story/19325510/criminal-cases
Yesterday, the Fulton County Daily Report ran a similar story which included comments from Judge Forsling as well as Fulton County State Court Chief Judge Patsy Y. Porter. Judge Forsling called Schaffer’s actions “gross neglect” and outlined a plan to get her criminal docket moving again. Judge Porter outlined the new computer system that will be implemented in 2013. Peach State Lawyer Daniel Farnsworth applauds a new court case tracking system as working with the old system, Banner, was counter intuitive, confusing, and frustrating.