Tulsa County misdemeanor cases that had been put on hold for months because of the pandemic picked back up Friday.
Judges, prosecutors, lawyers and defendants met at the Cox Convention Center so they could space out and tackle as many cases as possible. Tulsa County court records show more than 4,000 misdemeanor cases have been filed since the pandemic started. Nearly 400 cases were scheduled to go before a judge Friday.
The makeshift "courtroom" at the Cox Convention Center offered a change of scenery and more importantly, a lot more space.
"We are able to maintain great social distancing,” Tulsa County Judge Dawn Moody said.
Judge Moody said Friday’s goal was to catch up on some pending misdemeanor cases that have been backlogged because of the pandemic.
"Larceny of merchandise from a retailer, we've had a couple of embezzlement by employees, unauthorized use of credit card, a lot of property crimes,” Moody said.
Misdemeanor domestic violence cases and protective order violations were not on the docket.
For some defendants Friday marked the first step in the process, while other cases were finalized.
"The majority of the cases, though, the defendants are either pleading guilty, pleading no contest and or passing their cases to a future date if they are wanting to not enter a plea today,” Judge Moody said.
Once defendants wrapped up in the "courtroom," many stopped by to visit with Nikki Dillenbeck with Family and Children's Services.
"They've been very responsive. Very grateful and just wanting to be able to comply,” Dillenbeck said.
Dillenbeck is the Re-entry Team Lead for the Women’s Justice Team.
She and her team work with women to come up with plans after any jail time and provide services that can help with housing and employment.
"Because we want everyone to be as successful as possible,” Dillenbeck said.
Judge Moody said there are tentative plans to have another docket day similar to Friday’s, coming up in March.