California County Forced to Drop 18 Cases for Lack of Judges and Courtrooms

Thursday, October 28, 2010
Eighteen criminal cases in Riverside County, California, have been dismissed by the state’s Supreme Court due to a lack of judges and criminal courtrooms. District Attorney Rod Pacheco argued for delaying rather than dismissal of the cases, which included two felonies. But the justices ruled legal precedent made it clear the cases had to be thrown out.
“Past California decisions establish that when the unavailability of a judge or courtroom is fairly attributable to the fault or neglect of the state, such unavailability does not constitute good cause” to put off a trial, wrote Chief Justice Ronald George.
Pacheco’s answer to the shortage of judges and courtrooms was to use specialized courts such as family law, juvenile and probate to hear the criminal cases within the legal requirements of providing defendants a speedy trial. However, the seven state Supreme Court justices unanimously rejected this solution.
-Noel Brinkerhoff
Court Tosses 18 Criminal Cases for Lack of Judges (by Annie Youderian, Courthouse News Service)
The People v. Terrion Marcus Engram (California Supreme Court) (pdf)
Riverside County: Not All Courts for Criminal Cases (by Richard K. De Atley, Riverside Press-Enterprise)


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