Sunday, December 9, 2007

Vegas Justice

Dis-Order in the Court(house)

The Las Vegas judicial system is like every other judicial system in the US - overworked, overburdened, and overwhelmed. Despite the national coverage when OJ Simpson was recently charged the average alleged lawbreaker has to wait his or her turn for justice. Two years ago a brand new Regional Justice Center was opened at a cost of $ 185 million and the old courthouse was cast aside like a deserted ex-wife. Here come 'da judge but there aren't enough courtrooms.

Some years ago I saw a play titled "Hot L Baltimore." The setting was a once-proud dilapidated old fleabag hotel. In its heyday the neon sign proudly announced "Hotel Baltimore," but as the building went to seed so did the neon sign's letter "e" in Hotel. Although not done in neon, such is the case with the sign in the old courthouse that reads, "Eighth Judicia District Court."

The problem is that as the population of Las Vegas continues to grow at a pace of five to six thousand newbies per month, (the Valley just surpassed the 2-million mark) services of all types including legal services are needed. The new judicial digs have not yet celebrated birthday #2 and are already bursting at the seams like Baby Huey. The wheels of justice got fresh grease but they're moving as slow as ever.

The new place is not exactly Mayberry size. The Center is more than 711,000 square feet (that number is sooooo Vegas) and stands 18 floors. (Why not 21 floors in keeping with the Las Vegas theme?) But it seems the space has crapped out and those who are being tried are stacked up tighter than a dealers 4 deck shoe. In a little more than a year six new District Court judges are scheduled to be added to the docket. Getting a prompt court date looks to be harder than making 12 straight passes on the craps table.

Here's an idea: Las Vegas loves to tout itself as a 24-hour town. Casinos, hotels, restaurants, clubs, gas stations, pharmacies, grocery stores, and even convenience stores are open 24/7. Want a quart of milk at 3 a.m.? No problem. Want to dance the night away until the sun comes up and later then go out for breakfast? You've got plenty of choices. Taxis and buses are at your beck and call any time. No blue laws or last calls at local watering holes. So why not make the court system available around the clock? Police are already on the job day and night. Why not judges and lawyers?

Utilizing the courthouses more efficiently will at least double the availability of courtrooms without adding a single one. It may be an idea whose time has come. How about a little blogging music maestro. Can you do a few bars of "Rock Around the Clock?"

Dr. Forgot

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