Last Modified: Monday, October 15, 2012 11:10 AMWith Judge Robert Wyatt leaving family court in January, the judges of the 14th Judicial District Court have decided to divvy up domestic cases among themselves, court officials said.
Wyatt, Judge Lilynn Cutrer and Judge Guy Bradberry currently handle all juvenile and domestic cases in Family & Juvenile Court, a division of the district court, but Wyatt’s two-year commitment to family court ends at the end of the year and he will return to criminal and civil cases, Cutrer, chief judge, said.
Ron Ware served a two-year commitment in family court prior to Wyatt.
This time, though, the nine judges decided to give each judge an equal share of domestic cases, Cutrer said.
During the first year, Cutrer, Bradberry and Wyatt won’t receive any new domestic cases, she said — Cutrer and Bradberry will be absorbing Wyatt’s juvenile cases.
“Those were temporary fixes,” Bradberry said of Ware and Wyatt’s two-year stays in family court. “We’re looking for something more permanent.”
Since 2008, the 14th District court has asked the state for a 10th judgeship, but was told the 14th doesn’t have enough of a workload.
A court’s workload is determined by a points system that gives varying amounts of points for cases. Juvenile cases receive the most points, Cutrer said, followed by adult criminal cases, then domestic cases.
The problem, Cutrer and Bradberry said, is that spread out across all divisions, the workload doesn’t necessitate a 10th judge, but at least three judges are needed to handle all the juvenile and domestic cases.
Both judges said family court cases are often emotional and often last for many years.
Cutrer said that having Wyatt back on criminal and civil cases will “give (the other judges) relief. Clearly, they saw a difference when they lost a judge just like we see a difference when we lose a judge.”
There is still a lot of work to be done to ensure that the least affected are residents and the bar, Cutrer said.
“We’re trying to make this smooth for everybody,” she said.