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Administrator hired to ease court load

The addition of a full-time administrator and other upcomingchanges will help to better serve attorneys, clients and the publicas court officials work to move cases through chancery court, saidJudge Ed Patten.

Patten said Bethany Lewis has been named court administrator andwill be responsible for scheduling cases in his Lincoln and CopiahCounty Chancery Court District.

After four years with the Mississippi Department of Correctionsas drug treatment program coordinator, Lewis began her new dutiesthis week and is looking forward to the court work.

“I just want to do a good job and help the attorneys, the judgeand court staff,” Lewis said.

Patten said the court district was one of only two in the statethat had one person handling court reporting and part-time courtadministration. However, new case filings and other duties becametoo much for one person, Patten said.

“It was so inconvenient we felt like we weren’t servingattorneys the way we should,” Patten said. “This was way to addressthat.”

Ola Berry had been handling the double duty as court reporterand administrator. She will now focus on court reporting.

According to court records, 1,113 new cases were filed inLincoln County in fiscal year 1999 and of those, 656 were disposed.Patten estimated another 800 new cases were filed last year inCopiah County.

“That’s a lot of new cases for a two-county district,” Pattensaid.

Considering some of the cases involve estates and are notsettled for years, Patten said the case disposal rate for hisdistrict is a good one. With additional personnel and changes, hewas looking to make it even better.

Patten said Lewis will be developing a web site identifyingcases and court schedules. So they do not “fall through thecracks,” Lewis will also be involved in tracking cases as they movethrough the system and in notifying attorneys of various filingdeadlines in preparation for trial.

“This will help the attorneys represent their clients better andkeep cases moving,” Patten said.

In chancery court, Patten said multiple cases are scheduled tobe heard each day. If an early case is settled or appears close tosettlement, tracking will give attorneys in later cases a betteridea of when theirs will be heard, Patten said.

For the general public and those who have cases pending inchancery court, Patten said the changes should mean cases gettingto court quicker and more efficient operation.

“That’s the real threshold in anything we do: to help attorneysget their cases to court and see that their clients and the publicare served,” Patten said.