Are courthouse politics gumming up the system?

When I came back to The Smoky Mountain News after six months away from journalism, one of my first trips was to the Haywood County Courthouse. 

When the levee breaks: A perfect storm steers WNC toward a judicial crisis

Some catastrophes happen in the blink of an eye, while others develop so slowly they’re imperceptible, like a crack in a levee propagating below the waterline.

New hires to speed child custody cases in Cherokee

Tribal Council voted unanimously last month to expand the tribe’s roster of attorneys in hopes of moving child custody cases through the courts more efficiently. The cases often take multiple months to reach resolution, prompting complaints from community members. 

Pretrial program nears end of pilot year

Haywood and Jackson counties have been participating in an important pilot program this year in hopes of creating a more fair and swift court process in the judicial district. 

Judge Letts to retire: Superior Court will see vacancy four months after Election Day

Amid widespread speculation about plans to run for principal chief of the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians, Superior Court Judge Bradley Letts has announced plans to retire from his position — but not to run for tribal office. Letts said he has ruled out that possibility. 

Pay for court-appointed lawyers remains stagnant

Under the Sixth Amendment every criminal defendant has a constitutional right to legal representation — and if you can’t afford a lawyer, you have the right to have one provided by the state. 

Lawyers needed for pretrial pilot program

The success of a pretrial release program being piloted in Jackson and Haywood county’s judicial district hinges on a handful of lawyers being willing to dedicate at least one day a week to handling first appearances for indigent clients. 

The cost of compassion: Influx of juvenile cases could cause cash crunch

A juvenile justice system already stressed to the limit is about to be stretched even further, thanks to a change in state law that will increase caseloads as well as the need for youth diversionary programs. And although this coming change has been on the radar for some time now, there’s still no clear signs on who’s going to pay for it, how or when. 

Mediation valuable service in criminal justice system

Mountain Mediation Services has been providing an invaluable service to Western North Carolina’s criminal justice system for more than 20 years. 

Mountain Mediation helps reduce conflicts

By Kirkwood Callahan • Guest Columnist

Crime does not pay — so most Americans have been told. However, it places enormous costs on society. Victims and families are traumatized by the tragic loss of life and property while government at all levels bears the burden of apprehending, prosecuting and confining offenders. No region is shielded from crime’s evil effects and costs. 

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