MONTGOMERY COUNTY, AL (WSFA) - Montgomery County Grand Jury considered a record-breaking number of cases during the June session.
The 18 person grand jury panel, chosen at random from Montgomery County's jury pool considered nearly one thousand cases during a five day grand jury session.
When reporting out on Friday, the grand jury had heard 939 cases, from nearly 600 witnesses, indicted 505 cases, and no-billed 253 cases, setting a new all-time record for a week's worth of work.
District Attorney Daryl Bailey said his office worked countless hours planning to meet the task at hand.
"As soon as the last grand jury was over in May, we have met over and over," Bailey said. "We have assigned additional people to our grand jury unit. We had nearly 600 witnesses, and they had to be subpoenaed."
Bailey said members of the grand jury had to alternate to take breaks in order to meet the demand for cases, lunch was limited to no more than twenty minutes.
"They worked an unbelievable amount of hours," Bailey stated. "That's a lot to put on citizens of our county."
The May grand jury heard 632 cases, around three hundred less than June. Bailey credits the additional cases to the Department of Forensics clearing out a significant backlog in drug and DNA cases.
"The Department of Forensics is now getting us drug cases in less than 30 days," Bailey said. "A year or two years ago, we were waiting three, sometimes four years to get the results back on drug cases."
Bailey said the DFS is still experiencing a backlog in ballistics and other concentrations that impact personal cases like murder and assault.
"I know they are still working on," Bailey explained. "I know they are trying to get some resources to get that problem taken care of. Those are the hardest cases when you have victims attached to it."
Bailey explained the oldest case considered by this grand jury dates back to 2014. He is working diligently to adjudicate murder cases in a more timely fashion.
"My goal is to get them indicted and tried in a year, and I hope I live to see that," he said.
June's case numbers are likely on a scene-setter for what's to come in July as DFS continues to clear out current and backlogged cases.
"We are looking at an even bigger grand jury in July," Bailey said. "Right now the numbers are continuing to rise, hopefully I do see it leveling out by the fall."
Those indicted are now on track to trial, as the prosecutors and staff gear up to now prosecute these cases – a serious weight on the system, and the District Attorney's Office.
"It keeps me up at night," Bailey said. "Worrying about staff and staff turnover, they work so hard - they get so stressed, they don't get paid a lot. They can go to another job to work on a lot fewer cases for a lot more money."