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State high court upholds dismissal of 18 criminal cases in Riverside County because of judges shortage [Updated]

California's budget crisis has proved a boon for some defendants.

In a unanimous ruling, the California Supreme Court on Monday upheld the dismissal of 18 criminal cases, two of them felonies, in Riverside County because there were not enough judges to hear them.

The court blamed the problem on the state's failure to hire more judges.

Chief Justice Ronald M. George, writing for the court, said Riverside County's "congested criminal caseload represented a chronic" problem.

"The lack of available courtrooms and judges was attributable to the Legislature's failure to provide a number of judges and courtrooms sufficient to meet the rapidly growing population in Riverside County," wrote George, who has been lobbying legislators for years for more judges.

The defendants in the two felonies and 16 misdemeanors declined to waive their rights to a speedy trial, forcing a trial judge to dismiss the charges because there were no courtrooms available. Riverside County prosecutors challenged the dismissal, arguing that the court should have made every judge in the courthouse, including those in juvenile, family law and probate, available for the cases.

[Updated at 12:40 p.m.: The ruling also was a victory for defendants in an additional 300 Riverside County criminal cases that had been dismissed for lack of judges and were on appeal, said County Deputy Public Defender Wiliam A. Meronek. 

"The courts are just overwhelmed by both the exponential growth in population and by some extent to the district attorney's charging policy," Meronek said. "They tend to pursue everything, and they are reluctant to plea bargain or negotiate any settlement."]

-- Maura Dolan

 
Comments () | Archives (31)

Gee, does that have anything to do with Jerry Brown's LOUSY running of his job?

That rumbling you hear is the sound of Prop 25 turning into a landslide.

This article should be pasted on the ballot box for Meg and the rest of the tax cutters. Our country has an infastructure and judicial system that is on the verge of collapse, as the rich call for even less money to do the job of government. There will be a time in this country when the rich will live in large compounds, guarded by private security firms, while the rest of us will live in chaos. The writing is on the wall (and in the Times).

This article should be pasted on the ballot box for Meg and the rest of the tax cutters. Our country has an infastructure and judicial system that is on the verge of collapse, as the rich call for even less money to do the job of government. There will be a time in this country when the rich will live in large compounds, guarded by private security firms, while the rest of us will live in chaos. The writing is on the wall (and in the Times).

Amazing! The California Supreme Court unanimously gets one right. Even a broken clock gives the correct time twice a day. I'm not holding my breath until the next time this occurs.

Judges now get to choose their area of specialty, no matter what the needs of the public might be???? I hope this is only in California! lmao

Maybe Riverside county should boycott crime. LA's boycott of Arizona appears to have brought AZ to its knees...
Si Se Puede!!!

But this has nothing to do with illegal immigration right?!?

The last paragraph tells the facts of the matter. We have changed over to a rabid prosecution mindset, not only in Riverside County but all over California. We are prosecuting everything to the extreme maximum we can twist it to, and then surprised more and more defendants will not take overly extreme plea bargains and opt for a trial instead. This, of course, demands more and more judges (as well as more and more jurors and, if a conviction is achieved, more and more prison space for longer times).

We need to be a LOT more sensible about prosecutions, and realize the idea should not be to vengefully beat up on the guilty as much as possible but to try to reform them. We are going about reforming the guilty all wrong; our approach is a massive failure, but all we do is take the approach to more and more extremes.

Instead of seeing how much you can possibly beat up on and punish the guilty, consider the old saying: you can attract more flies with honey than you can with fly paper. In other words, seek to rehabilitate by attracting them join the good society, not by trying to beat them into submission. We have relied nearly exclusively on beating them into submission and labeling them bad for a lifetime, and it has been a massive failure, the biggest failure in history.

It's a great time to be a criminal.

The whole sorry mess in Riverside County was the fault of the outgoing DA, Rod Pacheco, whose ludicrous unwillingness to plead low-level cases, coupled with his grandstanding insistence on overcharging everything, led to the crisis to begin with. Three times in the first part of the decade, when Grover Trask and after him Pacheco were DA, there had to be moratoria on civil trials. In 2007, fewer than twenty civil cases actually reached trial, and most of those were so-called five year cases that had to be tried or dismissed.

Hopefully, incoming DA Paul Zellerbach, himself a superior court judge, will know how to strike the right balance and not try to treat the Courts as nothing more than adjunct of the DA's office, as Trask and Pacheco did.

Responding to stevor, no it has NOTHING to do with the Attorney General and everything to do with the local District Attorney, the soon-to-be-gone Rod "it takes a good prosecutor to convict a guilty man, but it takes a great prosecutor to send an innocent man to prison" Pacheco.

Well, this is the result of the no-tax/low-tax lunacy that has gripped California for 40 years now. The intent of the no-tax/low-tax terrorists is to cause the breakdown of government. It is working. It will be only a matter of time before, Howard Jarvis, Ronald Reagan, Grover Norquist, and the entire GOP will have turned the state into Somalia.

The "war on drugs" causes about half the crimes in the US. Stop it, and we have enough judges, prosecutors and cops. On the other hand, we will have thousands of fewer murders in the US, and probably elsewhere, too. Retired Judge Jim Gray is worth paying attention to on this subject. http://www.judgejimgray.com/

Gee, does that have anything to do with Jerry Brown's LOUSY running of his job?

Posted by: stevor | October 25, 2010 at 12:22 PM

----------------

Uh, no.

The judicial branch is SEPARATE from the executive branch, which the Attorney General is a part of. Further, the Riverside DA does not answer to the Attorney General. The fault for this lies solely with the Legislature and its inability to properly fund the judiciary, despite pleas from the judiciary that this EXACT thing was bound to happen if more judges were not hired.

Now, you're going to have literally thousands of defendants across the state insisting on their Constitutional right to a speedy trial in an effort to get their charges dismissed since nearly every court in the state is overwhelmed.

If the D.A. in Riverside County would stop charging for VICTIMLESS CRIMES (like drug offenses, and prostitution!), they WOULD HAVE COURTHOUSE ROOM, AND ENOUGH AVAILABLE JUDGES! Note to Riverside D.A.: FOCUS ON CRIMES WITH ACTUAL VICTIMS!

It's a great time to be a criminal.--ummmmm

You mean like the criminals on Wall Street or in Washington who were never charged in the first place?

they should allow the VICTIMS to pass sentence on these criminals. judges?, we don't need no stinking judges!

Justice rendered, Jerry Brown style.

Well done Jerry.

But all unions pensions are safe no matter what else has to be cut--right? Keep Pensions safe! Vote for Brown!

By by all means, don't raise taxes so we can afford more judges.

Who's the Attorney General? Wonder if such a person would make a good governor?

I'm not quite following how supposed nihlistic resistance towards higher taxation has caused this and other state budget crisis. CA is already one of the highest taxing states in the country. Unfunded pension plans for gov. workers no longer working are currently eating a tremendous amount of our resources, and the hole in our budget is only going to get worse until we can stop the cycle of voting for more benefits and fewer taxes.

There's no such things as workable reform. The only way to reduce crime is to lock these animals behind cages or, better yet, kill them. Nice try though.

Thanks, Republicans. Anything to thwart Obama, right? Even if it means endangering the community.

 
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