Staff shortage creating long lines at Chesterfield Courthouse

By Melissa Correa - bio | email
Posted by Terry Alexander - email

CHESTERFIELD, VA (WWBT) – There's no quick trip to Chesterfield's General District Courthouse. With a limited staff and long lines, you're estimated wait time is about half an hour.

Standing in a line that stacked up would stretch two stories is Ricky Seldon. If he wants to drive, he's got to stay in line.

"You got the tickets. (What are the tickets for? Speeding?)  Speeding. Suspension. No seatbelt. Tinting," he said.

We find the 24-year-old with a wad of cash, waiting 20 minutes.

"I'm going to try to be patient, but I can't promise you anything," Seldon said.

Wednesdays and Fridays are the busiest days. Expect longer lines and shorter tempers as 700 people pass through this narrow hallway. The hallway leads into the customer service center- with five counters. Only two are staffed today. The rest are closed.

Working with an efficient, although dated filing system, are 27 employees. They handle traffic, criminal, and civil cases. General district courts are managed by the state--- which hasn't invested more money in years. Supervisor Leroy Hudson worries some of his staff may walk out.

"They're doing all they can do with what they've got," Hudson said.

An increasing case load requires 9 more employees. But Hudson can't hire.

Because of a courthouse construction project, general district is set to get a 6th customer service station.  But without any added employees, it's just going to be another closed window.

(Let's be honest. There are probably a couple of customers that are not pretty nice to these clerks.) "That's correct. I try to deal with those people myself. They don't get paid enough to be abused," he said.

Lisa Glass, a regular customer, has seen frustration at the counter.

"They need to get them more help- is the big thing. If they have more help or maybe find a more streamlined process," Lisa said.

Right now only traffic tickets can be paid online. Lisa wishes the paperwork she needs could be downloaded.

Money collected here goes to Chesterfield or the state. Not even court costs stay with general district.

"They do the best they can do with what they have to work with," Lisa said.

And to make the process smoother, Hudson offers this advice, "Just be on time and expect to be here for a while."

State employees haven't received a pay raise in three years. They are set to receive a one-time three-percent bonus December 1st.

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