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Three weeks have passed since rocket docket was re-implemented in Hardin County and local prosecutors say approximately 30 cases have entered the expedited program.
The Hardin County Attorney and Ninth Circuit Commonwealth’s Attorney’s offices combined efforts to revive the rocket docket program earlier this month when new felony prosecutor Shane Young took office.
The program allows defendants to bypass multiple hearings and a grand jury review to reach quicker dispositions of their cases.
Young estimated about half the 30 defendants who entered rocket docket either applied for Hardin County Drug Court or opted to bypass a pre-sentence investigation and directly enter the Department of Corrections, meaning the expense of incarceration transfers from the county to the state.
“They want to get moved on to wherever they’re headed, whether it’s treatment or a penitentiary,” Young said.
County Attorney Jenny Oldham said rocket docket requires extra organization between district and circuit court prosecutors but is worth the effort.
“So far, we’re both pleased,” she said.
The benefits of rocket docket are not limited to the financial outcome, Oldham said. It also prioritizes prosecutors’ energies.
Before the Commonwealth’s Attorney’s Office can become involved in a case at the district court level, Oldham’s office must recommend it, she said.
“We’re having that conversation as soon as possible,” Oldham said.
Former Commonwealth’s Attorney Chris Shaw launched the program in Hardin County but eliminated it in 2009 after the county reduced funding from $100,000 to $50,000.
Hardin County Judge-Executive Harry Berry said the county on Jan. 22 provided $25,000 for rocket docket funding for the remainder of the fiscal year.
Young said his office has yet to allocate the money as he’s waiting to see what comes of the state’s pending budget cuts.
When the program was dropped in 2009, Berry said the county still was prepared to support rocket docket with $50,000. He expects when the new fiscal year begins July 1, the agreement will continue.
Response to rocket docket’s revival has been “overwhelming,” Young said.
Prosecutors were faced with a backlog of cases the first few weeks of the year, he said, and Young expects rocket docket’s pace will slow as the year progresses.
Sarah Bennett can be reached at (270) 505-1750 or email@example.com.