Vermont courts seek $13.6M in COVID relief to ease backlog of cases

Vermont News

MONTPELIER, Vt. (WFFF) — The Vermont court system plans to use nearly $13.6 million in federal money to ease a significant backlog of cases caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Court Administrator Patricia Gabel said eliminating the backlog of cases, particularly jury trials, requires an investment in personnel and technology. She presented the plan on Wednesday to the Judiciary Pandemic Response and Recovery Plan to the Vermont Senate Judiciary Committee.

Select courthouses have been identified to start holding trials, but no trials have been scheduled yet. Gabel’s plan calls for using the money from the American Rescue Plan Act over three-and-a-half-years.

Aside from jury trials, the courts have managed to handle casework through the pandemic, but there is a sense that when things open up the workload in the courts will increase, the Caledonian Record reported.

“The proposal identifies different areas where we would like to hire limited-service people to help us get up to speed in addressing what we expect to be a surge of cases,” Gabel said.

The plan is to control staff numbers through natural attrition. Gabel says her office would give annual reports about how staff is being used and what adjustments are taking place.

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