Proposal at Savannah City Council to add new municipal court - WTOC-TV: Savannah, Beaufort, SC, News, Weather & Sports

Proposal at Savannah City Council to add new municipal court

(Source: WTOC) (Source: WTOC)

A late item on Thursday's Savannah City Council agenda, but a big one.

City staff is looking into the possibility of creating its own municipal court, to take the place of the Recorder's Court of Chatham County.

The Recorder's Court serves as a court of the first appearance for all violations within city limits, from ordinance violations to felonies.

The Recorder's Court of Chatham County has been around since the early 70's and served Savannah's needs. But according to a memo from City Manager Stephanie Cutter to the council, the Recorder's Court is falling short.

A section of a memo identifying current issues within the court lists excessive delays in warrants and citations being docketed, people not being subpoenaed, and long waits in the courtroom.

These problems were identified after interviews with representatives from the District Attorney's Office, Chatham County Sheriff’s Office, along with state and superior court judges. But Charles Bowen, representing Recorders Court Chief Judge Tammy Stokes, says his client was never notified of any issues.

Bowen objects to the city saying in the memo that a new Municipal Court will serve the cities needs more efficiently and effectively than the current arrangement.

"I can't think of any way in which efficiency would be facilitated by creating an entire second court full of additional judges, staff, facilities, security, all doing the exact same job, all on the taxpayer's dime for no other reason than because that's what the city wants,” said Bowen.

Council did vote to allow the city manager to move forward with the exploration process to see what it would take for the city to have its own court.

Judge Stokes’ attorney says he hopes the city will come together after looking at the research, and determine it’s a terrible idea.

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