'Settlement Day' Eases Klamath County Court Dockets

, Written by Lyle Ahrens, Posted: Wed, September 11 2013 at 4:01 PM, Updated: Wed, September 11 2013 at 4:11 PM

Over 100 cases were resolved Tuesday during a 'Settlement Day' in Klamath County Court...and staffers have been busy tallying up numbers today.

Klamath County Circuit Court Judge Dan Bunch had 259 cases on his docket Tuesday...and 109 of those were resolved by the end of the day.

"Extremely pleased."  Stated Judge Bunch.  "And it went better than I thought it would."

Defense Attorney Phil Studenberg noted that settlement day made for a long wait for many defendants...

"I understand they all got parking tickets while they were waiting in court, little things like that - which are dehumanizing.  But I think in the long run it's going to be a great system, it's going to work."

It's hoped the settlement conferences will reduce the number of mandatory appearances, and reduce caseloads.

"The number of attorneys has dropped from 12 to 6 over the last 5 years, there's 5 judges and only 6 deputy DA's."  Klamath County District Attorney Rob Patridge points out.  "We just no longer have the staffing based on our budget to even cover the courtrooms."

Judge Bunch believes that justice is still being served...

"I think we ended up with the same result we would have had 7 appearances down the road, and we got it done in 1 appearance."

Studenberg adds that could save taxpayers some money...

"We'll move cases quicker, the jail space is going to get cleared out more quickly, there will be less cost to the jailers, and i think it's going to save everybody money."

The judges agreed to try the new system at the request of defense, and prosecuting attorneys.

Of the 109 cases resolved, 91 involved plea changes or scheduled changes of plea.

The remaining 18 cases were dismissed.

8 people were sent to prison as a result of settlement day.


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About the Author

Lyle Ahrens

KOTI-TV NBC2 reporter Lyle Ahrens moved from Nebraska to Klamath Falls in the late 1970's.  He instantly fell in love with the mountains, the trees and the rivers, and never once regretted the move.

Lyle's job history is quite colorful.  He’s managed a pizza parlor; he’s been a bartender, and a “kiwifruit grader” at an organic orchard in New Zealand.  A Klamath Falls radio station hired Lyle in the mid 90's as a news writer and commercial producer.  In 2004, Lyle joined the KOTI/KOBI news operation.

Lyle notes with pride that he has a big responsibility presenting the Klamath Basin to a wide and varied audience.  "The on-going water crisis has underscored the fact that the people and the issues in the Klamath Basin are every bit as diverse as the terrain.  Winning and keeping the trust of the viewers, as well as the newsmakers, is something I strive for with each story".

When he's not busy reporting the news, Lyle enjoys astronomy, playing guitar, fixing old radios and listening to anything by Sheryl Crow.

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