Judge has a plan for disparity in murder caseload
A Superior Court judge said Wednesday he will intervene for more juries and trials in Vance County in order to bring down the number of pending murder cases.
Superior Court Judge Robert Hobgood announced in open court Wednesday he will lead an administrative effort to schedule and try Vance County’s 25 pending murder cases.
Outside the courtroom afterward, he said utilizing trial court sessions from other counties as needed is on the table as part of a comprehensive effort that begins in October with a systematic status review of all the cases.
“I have received a report from District Attorney Sam Currin regarding the pending murder cases in Vance County,” Hobgood said in open court as he wrapped up a bond hearing for 18-year-old Corey Cheek, a defendant in two cases of first-degree murder.
“I will, beginning in October, start a systematic status conference review of every murder case in Vance County.”
Hobgood explained in chambers that the status conferences will run from October to the end of his sitting for Vance County Superior Court in December, and will include setting firm trial dates.
The conferences will take place in open court, with prosecutors and defense attorneys present. In matters of scheduling, it is not necessary for defendants to be involved.
“But in these instances, I will want the defendants present too,” he said. “Certain deadlines will be set, including a trial date.”
Right away, the process of scheduling conferences for the status reviews will take place, and that involves making sure attorneys and defendants are available, according to Hobgood.
“As Senior Residence Superior Court Judge, I can move a session of court from one county to another within this Ninth Judicial District, but I have to do this at least six months in advance,” Hobgood said. “It is apparent to me that I will have to move some sessions of court from either Franklin, Granville or Warren counties to Vance County to address these murder cases.”
The aim is to be able to conduct all of the jury trials needed, he added.
“This has to be planned well in advance,” Hobgood said. “When you compare to the other counties, to have 25 murder cases pending, to me is alarming. I feel like I need to step in and do what I can administratively to assist in the scheduling of these cases.”
In court, Hobgood detailed the comparison between counties of the Ninth District Superior Court.
“I am not doing that in Franklin County because there are no pending murder cases in Franklin County,” Hobgood said. “I am not doing that in Granville County because there are only four pending murder cases in Granville County.”
He added Warren County has only two pending murder cases.
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