Abilene, Texas - The booming meth problem in Taylor County has carried over to the court system and the family district court is taking a big hit with an overload of Child Protective Services cases.
The problem, Judge Paul Rotenberry said, stems from drug abuse. Children in Taylor County are being removed from their homes and placed in the state's care. Those cases trickle down to the 326 th District Court, filling up the docket and pushing back other family cases.
The backlog comes from an increase in emergency removal cases. In 2015, there were 255 reported; in 2016, there were 259; and as of June 30 this year, 155 reported.
Rotenberry said he anticipates exceeding 300 emergency removals this year. He also attributes the increase in cases to the increase in investigators. In 2014, there were nine, there are now 22.
"I am one guy standing in the gap trying to limit the flow and limit the damage," said Rotenberry.
When cases overflow from the family court docket, they carry over to other district judges' courts. Rotenberry said he hands over at least 20 cases to them a week.
The only solution to keep up with the excess of cases is for Taylor County to have its own CPS court, Rotenberry said.
The judge is now leaning on the Taylor County Commissioners' Court to increase his court's budget by $50,000 to make a current part-time judge full-time and to hire a court reporter. The commissioners have a special-called meeting Tuesday to go over a preliminary budget report.