Victim’s right to a speedy trial?

The victim’s rights movement sweeping the nation has now resulted in a new tactic employed by a prosecutor: filing a speedy trial motion. On behalf of the victim. In Stamford, one victim co-signed a speedy trial motion with the prosecutor seeking an immediate trial date.

Her desire to put her husband’s criminal case behind her is so great that Kramer and the prosecutor handling the case took an unprecedented step last month: They filed a motion for an immediate trial to have Kramer’s case leap past 53 ahead of it on the docket at state Superior Court in Norwalk.

I understand the whole victim’s rights movement and I agree to a certain extent that victims should have some input, or at least be kept informed, of the progress of the criminal cases they are involved in. What this trend seems to be going toward is an adversarial system, where the defendant is up against the state and the victim.

I think if we’re going do that, might as well go all the way. Make the victim a named party on the same side as the state; have counsel for the victim file an appearance and away we go. At least this way, victim’s statements and acts will be admissible at trial.

Obviously, the problems are severe. Shortened pre-trial periods mean less time for investigation, development of trial strategies and general disregard for the Constitutional rights of an accused.

Leading defense lawyers say it is unfair to involve victims in any hearing other than the sentencing of a defendant. A victim’s push for a quick trial could trample a defendant’s constitutional right to track down witnesses and research a case, said Jack King, spokesman for the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers in Washington, D.C.”Allowing victims any control in the truth-seeking process is generally not good for the justice system,” King said. “It upsets the whole balance the Framers intended.”

Even the word “victim” can be misleading, he said.

“There is no victim until a jury decides a crime has been committed,” King said.

I say let the State file these motions. Then every defense attorney should also file a speedy trial motion in every case. Bring every case on the docket to trial. For why should this particular victim be special? Aren’t all other victims deserving of the same speedy resolution of their respective cases? [Although in this case, there might be legitimate concerns: the victim’s health is failing]

Appoint more judges, hire more court staff, build new courthouses. Let’s get moving!

I think people are forgetting what the real purpose of a speedy trial provision is. It exists to prevent the State from holding an innocent person [you know, innocent until proven guilty] for an indefinite period of time without having to prove the charges it has levied against him. It doesn’t mean trial within 6 months, regardless of the complexity of the case, the difficulty of investigation or the desire to seek the truth in a particular case.

I hope, nay pray, that Connecticut doesn’t fall into a routine of permitting this to continue.

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4 thoughts on “Victim’s right to a speedy trial?

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  3. SPO

    I think you’re worried about nothing. The bottom line is that if a victim wants a speedy trial and the prosecutor is willing to ask for it, then the judge can evaluate the request.

    Jack King is a moron for saying that there is no crime until a jury says so. I guess that Nicole Brown Simpson and Ronald Goldman weren’t murdered, huh? Defense attorneys seem to think that acquittals have a magical power to alter the past. They don’t. It can simply mean that someone got away with it, e.g., Mel Ignatow.

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