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With DNC concluded, courts prepare for ‘tsunami’ of work

The preparation for DNC week at the Mecklenburg County courthouse was meticulous, and for the most part, everything went as smoothly as could be. Court employees made alternative travel plans. Regular business was put off so the court could be ready for the possibility of massive arrests, but by Friday morning, police had made only 25 arrests related to the DNC.

Everything came off like clockwork, except for one thing—nobody remembered to deliver the mail.

Mecklenburg County Clerk of Court Martha Curran said that the court received absolutely no mail on Tuesday, Wednesday or Thursday. (Monday was a federal holiday.) As such, the court was bracing Friday for the largest dump of mail on a courthouse since the climactic scene of Miracle on 34th Street.

“I am concerned that [Friday] we’re going to get hit with a tsunami of mail like we’ve never had before,” Curran said.

The date on which mail reaches the courthouse can have major ramifications for statutes of limitations and deadlines for motions. Curran said the court would treat all mail that arrives on Friday as if it had arrived on Tuesday.

And while neither rain (of which there was almost Biblical quantities at the DNC) nor heat nor gloom of night stays these couriers from the swift completion of their appointed rounds, the postal creed says nothing of trying to negotiate the warzone-like security precautions that enveloped Charlotte during the DNC.

Police officers from across the Southeast came to Charlotte to help with the convention, with a gaggle of officers on seemingly every corner—and the lines of communication appeared to get crossed at times. When one visitor tried to navigate his way to the courthouse from the bus depot, a set of officers sent him to Tryon Street. When he got there, he found it was completely blocked, even to pedestrian traffic.

The officers on Tryon then sent the visitor to 5th Street, which—you guessed it—was also totally blocked.

Aside from those hiccups, though, court officials were very pleased going into the final night of the convention. Curran said the arrests related to the DNC were trivial compared to what the county sees in a typical week.

Andrew Murray, district attorney for Mecklenburg County, confirmed that the fears of planners did not come to fruition.
“It’s a great week for Charlotte,” Murray said. “We prepared for the worst and we got much less than that.”

That’s not to say DNC week is completely in the court’s rearview mirror. Because the criminal courts did not schedule regular business this week, district attorneys will be dealing with a heavy backlog of cases as they catch up. Murray said court dockets will be “pretty significant” for the next several weeks.

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