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Orange County Digest

County : Court Backlog Eased by 275 Settlements

May 16, 1987

Opponents in 275 lawsuits settled their differences this week in a special Orange County Superior Court program that avoided more than 1,500 trial days.

"This represents a saving of between seven and eight judge years," said Alan Slater, executive officer of the courts. "It's a tremendous value to the taxpayers, the court and the lawyers."

The cases were settled as the result of an intensive program of pretrial conferences held this week in 1,085 cases. Judges met with opposing sides in an attempt to help resolve differences without trials.

Slater said the program will be repeated Aug. 17-21.

The settlements represent 25.3% of the pending cases, Slater said. Approximately 500 cases were not settled, 74 were sent to arbitration and settlement hearings for 236 were canceled.

Normal increases in the volume of civil suits and a recent jump in the number of criminal cases have added to the backlog of cases clogging the courts.

As of the end of March, 7,331 cases were ready for trial and waiting for an available courtroom. One year earlier the backlog was 6,085.

Legislation is pending before the Legislature that would create 15 additional judgeships in Superior Court.

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