(CBS) — The Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office is about to cut way back on the number of cases it tries when people are accused of driving on suspended or revoked licenses.
Those cases already in the pipeline will be tried, but prosecutors will not be assigned any new cases against those who lost their licenses for failing to pay tolls, parking tickets or child support.
“We’re in a situation where we have to triage,” First Assistant State’s Attorney Eric Sussman said Thursday. “We have to make sure we’re putting the resources into the areas where we need them the most.”
He’s talking about such areas as murders, attempted murders and other violent crimes, where prosecutions have spiked even as resources have decreased.
Sussman said prosecutors handling misdemeanor cases should have a load of about 400 cases apiece. Instead, he says, the average in Cook County is about 5,700 cases. Those handling murder cases have an average of 25 cases; the recommended number is five.
DUI and reckless homicide-related cases will still go to trial. Sussman says the change will free up two courtrooms and their personnel, and cut the Traffic Court caseload by 60 percent to 65 percent.
Communities that choose to do so will be allowed to try the cases themselves.
Sussman said representatives from the state’s attorney’s office are meeting with police and municipal officials to explain why the change is considered a necessity.