Courthouse seeing backlog after blizzard

TULSA - Call it Blizzard backlog.

After closing for a few days, it could take weeks before the Tulsa County Courthouse is completely caught up.

The courthouse closed for five days. By law, if you're due in court and the courthouse is closed, you're supposed to show up the next day it's open and that's made things busy at the courthouse.

Usually sheriff's deputies transport no more than 120 inmates from the jail to the courthouse daily for court.

"We're staffed to be able to handle that many people. We have the transportation means with our buses and vans to handle that many and then we have the guards that have to (sit) with them over at the holding facility," said Sergeant Shannon Clark with the Tulsa County Sheriff's Office.

But on Monday, it was two and a half times that and that was a strain on the entire system.

"It was organized chaos," said Tulsa District Court Judge Tom Thornbrugh.

Judge Thornbrugh says there was a lot of catching up to do and rescheduling.

"There were two weeks of jury trials disrupted. Probably a total of four trials and those are going to have to be rescheduled and that's just an unfortunate consequence of the fact that we couldn't proceed throughout the week," said Thornbrugh.

Down at the court clerk's office it was flooded too, but they've managed to catch up.

"People did come in and make arrangements, and we did continue a lot of cases so theoretically that work is not yet accomplished," said Sally Howe Smith, the Tulsa County Court Clerk.

The sheriff's office, however, will still see the effects for weeks, even months to come.

"You've got the new people coming in that are committing crimes so they're taking up space, but these people that potentially might have been released or moved to the Department of Corrections or whatever the case may be, their case is dismissed, well, they're still in the hopper ready to go when you've got more people coming said Sergeant Clark.

Stil, the busy backlog is melting off, and the judge's are pretty much caught up, but there was one group that courthouse workers are sad they didn't get to help.

"The Valentine wedding people," said Thornbrugh. "Sad to say, cupid was sidelined because of snow."

Print this article Back to Top