Anyone at public meetings that has heard District Judge Mark Morefield say when he took over the bench from his predecessor, former Judge Rusty Hight, that the “Docket was spinning out of control” is hearing a Judge that has gone out of his way to stay out of politics and stay away from criticizing the man he trounced in the 2010 election. We don’t know why he has all of a sudden spoken out - perhaps it is the frustration that goes along with all of the hours and hours trying to catch the docket up or maybe the difficult decisions Republicans have had to make to balance the budget because of Democratic party leadership. Whatever it is, his statements confirm what Liberty Dispatch has reported for years.
When Morefield took office in January 2011, he inherited a 17-page criminal docket and a five-page arraignment docket from Democrat Rusty Hight. In addition, before his last day Hight moved almost the entire law library from the judge’s quarters to the offices of Zeb Zbanek and Richard Baker (both longtime Democrats0. Despite the backlog of cases in his court and the stolen books, Morefield’s response was to simply roll up his sleeves and get to work, a refreshing change from his predecessor.
The docket problem hinged greatly on the prosecution, which includes District Attorney Mike Little (a longtime Democrat) and the young man he is pushing voters to elect to replace him, Logan Pickett. The District Attorney and all of his assistants, were being given cases, but they were not moving them through the courts quickly, and no judicial pressure was applied by Hight to budge the cases. Some cases were in excess of four years. Recently, we have seen where Little and Pickett have tried to focus the media on how quick and efficient Logan Pickett has been in the last few weeks, but despite them settling cases out of court, Pickett and Little have to be a big part of the reason Morefield has hade to work so hard to get his court’s docket caught up.
“The only pressure I could put was on the prosecution side,” said Morefield. “The bottom line is we tried 18 criminal jury trials in 2011. These were some of the oldest cases on the docket, including some for continuous sexual assault of a child.”
Liberty Dispatch once again points back to the voters’ decisions in 2010 and the choices they made in electing Judges Morefield, Cain, and Chambers as the foundation for a new era in cooperation and a new commitment to taking care of the people’s money and the precious business of democracy.
Judge Morefield is not a politician and has been a great example of someone who simply keeps his commitment to doing an excellent job and expects others to do the same. It is doubtful anyone will hear it come from Judge Morefield’s lips, but the black robes and gavel of a District Judge who is serious about making the justice system work helps make everyone around him get up out of bed and get to work on time and take care of business.
In a public meeting in Cleveland, the audience listening to Judge Morefield speak got to hear from the youngest in the D.A.’s office, Logan Pickett, as he interrupted the Judge with: “The state is ready, Judge.”
Let’s hope that is true. Let’s hope the Assistant D.A.’s with experience are recommitting themselves to their jobs. And to teaching Logan and any other lawyers who are wet behind the ears and just need some guidance to do a good job. Regardless, one thing we can be sure of - Judge is ready!