Top Calif. Court OKs Dismissal of Up to 300-Plus Criminal Cases Due to Judge Shortage
Posted Oct 25, 2010 2:36 PM CST
By Martha Neil
At least 18 criminal defendants who refused to waive their constitutional right to a speedy trial won't have to go to trial at all, following a California Supreme Court ruling today that charges against them were properly dismissed due to a lack of available judges in Riverside County to try their cases.
The ruling is also expected to benefit another 300 criminal defendants in Riverside County whose dismissals for the same reason also were being appealed by the prosecution, the Los Angeles Times reports. Prosecutors say the court should have made juvenile, family law and probate judges available to hear these criminal cases.
"The courts are just overwhelmed by both the exponential growth in population and by some extent to the district attorney's charging policy," Deputy Public Defender William Meronek tells the newspaper. "They tend to pursue everything, and they are reluctant to plea bargain or negotiate any settlement."
The article did not include any comment from Riverside County prosecutors.