GROWING CASE COUNT: Courts see more criminal cases in 2012

COLUMBIA CITY — By most measures, 2012 was a heavy year for the court systems in Whitley County. Whitley County Circuit Court had more criminal cases last year than in 2011. The court heard 314 total cases in 2012, up from 250 the year before that. In one respect, though, 2012 was lighter than 2011. Last year, there were no jury trials, as opposed to the two in 2011.The year 2012 began for circuit court with 113 previously pending criminal cases. There was also a total of 201 new ones that appeared in court. With that total of 334, 222 of those were cases received a ruling of some sort last year, with 92 now still pending going into 2013. Whitley County Superior Court also heard more cases in 2012 than it had in four years. There were a total of 2,295 filings for 2012, the highest total since 2008 when there were 2,523.As far as felonies were concerned in circuit court, there were three increases and one decrease for the year 2012. There was a rise in new filings in Class A, B and C felonies, with a decline in D felonies compared to 2011. Plea agreements rose in 2012. There was a total of 107 such rulings in 2012 and only 42 from the year 2011. The rise not only included the number of plea agreements, but also the percentage of decided cases that were plea deals; with the percentage in 2011 being 31 and the percentage in 2012 being 40.