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Jailed man accused of murder has been waiting for his day in cou - 12 News KBMT and K-JAC. News, Weather and Sports for SE Texas

Jailed man accused of murder has been waiting for his day in court for over 5 years

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BEAUMONT -

Imagine being behind bars for more than five years without having your day in court.  That is what a Port Neches man accused of murder has been living.

His story is just one of a 500-case backlog in Jefferson County's 252nd District Court.

Jefferson County officials say this backlog is not only denying people justice, it is also costing taxpayers thousands of dollars.

Court records we obtained show that 150 of those 500 backlogged cases have been active for over a year since the defendants in the case were formally charged.

But it's packed full of pending cases, some unresolved for almost seven years.

One of those cases is that of 44-year-old Christopher Robin, the Port Neches man is accused of killing his roommate back in November 2007.  He's been in the Jefferson County Jail for five-and-a-half years., 2,054 days to be exact.

We calculated that his stay in the county jail has cost Jefferson County taxpayers at least $154,000.

Then there's the case of 45-year-old John Alexander, he's free on bond, but he's been charged with failure to render aid and driving while intoxicated, third offense.

His case has been in limbo for more than five years.

Former Judge Layne Walker was over the 252nd District Court since 2003.  He resigned January 14th, but when we contacted him about this report, he told us, "There is no backlog, there's been more cases moved in my court than anyone else."

The county's other criminal district judge John Stevens currently has 146 active cases compared to the 500 case backlog in Walker's former court.

But we also checked with the Texas Indigent Defense Commission, which keeps records of cases involving people who had to rely on county-paid defense attorneys.

It shows in the past two years, Walker disposed more of those cases than Stevens, 78 more in 2013, and 64 more in 2012.

Walker also told us it's not how many cases tried that makes a good judge.

In the meantime, other Jefferson County district judges, including Stevens, Bob Wortham, Larry Gist and Larry Thorne, are working with the district attorney's office and defense lawyers to reduce the backlog in the 252nd district court.

In just one week, we're told 20 cases had been cleared.

After talking to him over the phone for a response, former Judge Walker texted us, "You also need to remember that I have spent the last two years defending myself daily from the lies of three local idiots.  There's your story of how these people can totally occupy a court with frivolous suits and lies."

Walker did not specify who those "local idiots" are, but we do know he's faced two or three lawsuits, one of them from Port Arthur attorney and judicial candidate Stella Morrison.

However a federal judge has asked Morrison to re-submit her suit, after he dismissed it as originally filed because it did not meet required guidelines.

We also contacted the attorney for those two men whose cases have been unresolved for years, but did not hear back from him.

On a related note, Texas Governor Rick Perry has not yet made a decision on who will fill Walker's vacant seat, until a new judge is elected.

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