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Coconino County to hire judge to help with backlog of cases

January 17, 2022 GMT

FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. (AP) — Coconino County is using federal relief funds to address a backlog of court cases that were delayed because of the coronavirus pandemic.

The county anticipates spending $500,000 from its share of American Rescue Plan Act funding to hire a new judge and support staff at the Coconino County Superior Court. The county Board of Supervisors recently agreed to fund the position for two years.

The new judge could start in the spring, increasing the number of court divisions to eight, the Arizona Daily Sun reported. Interviews of candidates are expected to start soon.

The pandemic forced court officials to delay numerous jury trials. More than 60 jury trials are scheduled this year, said presiding Coconino County Superior Court Judge Dan Slayton.

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“This new division will hopefully increase confidence in citizens that we are mindful of their desire to get into court and have their cases heard,” Slayton said.

He said caseloads likely won’t return to normal for two or three years, even with the help of another judge. He expects the position to become permanent once the federal relief funds run out.