Williamson County DA asks for help with case backlog

Williamson County DA file backlog (KXAN Photo)
Williamson County DA file backlog (KXAN Photo)

GEORGETOWN, Texas (KXAN) — When Shawn Dick took office as the new district attorney last month, his staff discovered more than 200 cases left behind by the previous DA. At the time, Dick was worried about what kind of cases were put on hold, and now after sorting through them, his office has learned it’s what the district attorney feared.

“The most serious we found in that stack were sexual assaults of children,” says Dick. “Really since then, it’s been about trying to make sure we get it fixed.”

To help cut down on the back log, Dick will be addressing the commissioners court on Tuesday. He’s asking for a third discovery clerk, overtime pay for investigators and higher pay for three new lawyers. “I’ve interviewed a number of attorneys, some very high-quality lawyers, but I know what they make in other counties,” explains Dick. “I was trying to get those salaries competitive, otherwise I’m going to have to look for a lawyer with less experience.”

While three new lawyers work on the backlog, another discovery clerk will help the DA’s office keep up with new cases. “They get about on average, 25 discovery requests a day. They can respond to about 10 of them a day, so every day we’re going 15 cases further behind,” says Dick.

Dick’s office also plans to ask for two new position once the budget renews; a trial division chief to oversee lawyers and a computer specialist to help with IT problems. Dick will speak to the Williamson County Commissioner’s Court on Tuesday to address his office’s current needs.

The backlog has forced the Williamson County DA’s office to drop some of their old cases. Dick says it’s difficult to find witnesses or the statute of limitations has expired.

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