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Marion County Prosecutor’s Office is catching up on court case backlog

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Posted at 8:37 PM, May 29, 2024

INDIANAPOLIS — COVID-19 caused a backlog in jury trials across the country, and it was no exception for the Hoosier state. The Marion County Prosecutor's Office says it is finally starting to catch up.

Last year, the office had more than 27,000 cases resolved. It also had more jury trials than it has since 2019.

"We've made significant progress from the backlog. I mean, we basically had 18 months to two years where we just were not in a position to try jury trials, which is how you're going to resolve a lot of these cases," said Marion County Prosecutor Ryan Mears.

Mears said last year, the office brought 200 cases to trial, more than it has since 2019.

"We have nowhere near the backlog that we had two-years-ago. You never want to say you're caught up because as soon as you say that, a bunch more cases come in. The workload is way more manageable today than it was even six-months-ago," said Mears.

Data shows the most tried cases for 2023 were for murder, child molesting, battery, domestic battery and possession of a firearm by a serious violent felon.

For murder, 43 cases went to trial, 51 plea deals and 4 cases were dismissed, according to MCPO.

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"There's not a lot of people looking to plead to murder, there's not a lot of people looking to plead to child molest or rape, so those cases have a tendency to go to trial," said Mears.

MCPO said as of December, there were around 28,000 pending cases.

More than 20,000 cases were newly filed in 2023.

While the court system is making progress, the waiting process can be difficult for those in and outside of jail.

"It's definitely tough for everyone," said Raymond Powell.

Powell was incarcerated during the pandemic and says he was affected by delays.

"I was waiting on a facility transfer. It was a situation where you had to be patient and hopeful, but the longer you wait, the more money you have to spend," Powell said.

Mears says the prosecutors office also had a 92% conviction rate on murders last year.

"The reason that's so important to me is that the community is giving us input in terms of what we're doing," said Mears. "We're very proud of our conviction rate as it relates to homicide cases. But again, that's our combination partnership with both the community and law enforcement to bring everybody in, highlight the investigation and utilize people from the community to tell us what happened."