A special session of Superior Court is planned to help clear a backlog of felony criminal cases that initially went unprosecuted by the Rhode Island Attorney General’s office.

Kristy dosReis, spokeswoman for Attorney General Peter Neronha, said the situation stems from the backlog of nearly 1,700 cases in the department’s intake unit that were disclosed by Neronha last April.

“In order to help address this higher volume of cases, we have worked closely with the courts and the defense bar. The court has decided to implement what is known as a ‘push calendar’ or an extra calendar to address this volume,” dos Reis said.

DosReis described the use of a push calendar as “not unusual” and said it “has been used by the courts from time to time to address higher volume of cases.”

But a search of Providence Journal archives going back to the early 1980s revealed only one article with the phrase “push calendar.” That was in 2010, when the Superior Court cleared out a large number of civil cases that had “been clogging the court's docket, some for more than a decade.”

Issues with unprosecuted cases emerged during the tenure of Neronha’s predecessor, Peter Kilmartin, last year. That situation was attributed to incomplete or absent “packages” of information from various police departments, and how neither the police or the AG’s office initially followed up to correct the situation.

Then, in April, Neronha said his office had uncovered an additional 1,697 cases in in the intake unit that required action. The statute of limitation had not expired on any of these cases.

As Neronha explained it at the time, the cases “were in queue and were waiting to be input,” but were not moving forward.

The prosecutor, who took office last January, responded by boosting staffing in the intake unit. By the time of his disclosure in April, he said the backlog had nearly been cut in half.

In April, Neronha said of the 1,697 cases, 626 were older than six months – meaning that conditions for defendants could change after that interval, with a possible elimination of the charge.

DosReis said the cases being charged include the group of more than 600 time-sensitive cases.

She said it is not yet clear when the special session will take place.

“We will continue to work cooperatively with the courts and the defense bar to address this increased volume of matters until they are resolved,” dosReis said.