No speedy trial for Houston man

June 1, 2009 3:49:08 PM PDT
For some people who want to fight a traffic ticket, it seems to be a never-ending process. You show up, your trial gets re-set, and it happens all over again. So what's going on and is it even worth it to fight a ticket, especially if you did nothing wrong? Nick Cooper has gotten used to the waiting. He's had to do a lot of it. Monday was the fourth day in two years he's spent in municipal court just waiting for trial

"They tell you no cell phones, no talking, no reading," he said. "So you're basically just sitting there."

Cooper is accused of going the wrong way down a one-way street. He could have paid a $100 fine and gone home. But he says he has pictures to show there weren't any visible road signs.

In two years, though, no one's even looked at those pictures. Instead, every time he's in court, trial gets re-scheduled.

"My sense of justice just keeps bringing me back," said Cooper.

The docket today shows cases going back to 2006 and attorneys there warn waiting for trial often costs their clients more in lost time at work than a guilty plea.

"This courthouse is probably the angriest building in the city," said attorney Paul Kubosh.

Nelly Trevino-Santos with the Houston Municipal Courts blames the volume of cases for straining the system. Last year, the courts handled more than 1.2 million cases. More than 700 went to a jury.

"Unfortunately, yes, it is going to take long," said Trevino-Santos. "If we had the facilities, if we had 20 jury trial courtrooms, I'm sure we would get to them quicker."

Right now, the courts have just seven jury rooms with plans to hopefully open new ones, though not anytime soon.

Cooper won't have to wait for that. Monday was finally his day in trial. But after all that waiting, Cooper was found guilty and had to pay a $100 fine. We asked him if it was all worth it and he responded, "Absolutely." But he also admitted he's stubborn.

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