by Max Brantley
LITTLE ROCK—Traffic Court Judge Vic Fleming announced today that on Wednesday, January 7, 2009, all three Little Rock District Judges will pitch in to handle a holiday-related backlog of traffic tickets.
Under the arrangement, Judge Fleming and Environmental Court Judge Judge Mark Leverett will start hearing pleas at 12:00 noon. Ordinarily, Judge Fleming alone hears traffic case pleas, starting at 12:30 every Wednesday. Criminal Court Judge Alice Lightle will also be available to assist, although she will have held court that morning.
“People who have traffic tickets due on January 7, regardless of the time written on their tickets, are encouraged to take advantage of this special arrangement,” Judge Fleming said. “Come early. Get here at noon and avoid the rush.”
Fleming said that 798 tickets are set for plea on Jan. 7. “About 250 of those are set for 12:30 and about 300 are set for 1:30,” Fleming said, “so quite a logjam will occur in the building during that hour unless we preemptively do something creative to deal with it..”
“As an accommodation to the public during the holiday season, the LRPD did not make any tickets due on either Christmas Eve or new Year’s Eve. Thus, we have about double the normal number of tickets due on the first Wednesday of the new year,” Fleming said in a statement released today.
“This is not unprecedented,” Fleming went on. “My first Wednesday on the job, in 1997, was Jan. 8, meaning that the two previous Wednesdays had been Christmas and New Year’s. On that day, we had nearly 1,000 tickets due. We did not have two judges sit that day, but we did start early. We processed, I think, 720 tickets that day, over the course of five hours. We freely gave two-day extensions to anyone who did not show up on Wednesday, then saw another 200 or so people on Friday.”