It is a given that a great part of a court’s
responsibility is to effectively and efficiently manage the case load and dockets in the court. Steps have already been taken
to make the docket calls more efficient.
is a goal of this Court that the average criminal case reach its disposition point in four months from date of indictment.
That means about one month from indictment to arraignment; one month to motions; one month to pretrial; and, one month to
trial. There are certainly exceptions, such as complex cases, cases involving detailed forensics, reconstruction issues and
such. A complex case will receive a scheduling order tailored to that case. In most instances, however, there are few reasons
why most cases cannot be disposed of in about four months.
Part of the solution is pretrial. We have set pretrial dates in most instances about 30-days or more before trial.
That gives both the State and the Defense a better idea of what cases really will go to trial on a given trial date.
The preference is, with some exceptions, that the pretrial
date will be the plea-bargain cutoff date. By that, the parties need to reach an agreement by the end of docket call or the
defendant will be placed on the trial docket. Being placed on the trial docket does not mean a defendant cannot enter a plea.
However, the plea may be an open plea to the court, rather than a negotiated plea with the State. There will be no "courthouse
tax" on defendants who do this. However, in order to manage and control the docket, the pretrial date will be the plea
bargain cutoff date.
For appointed attorneys,
this will help you with your clients. They can no longer expect to simply ride the docket until the case gets old and thus
get a sweeter deal. Also, you won’t have to keep coming back to court multiple times with the same client. In short,
you get paid sooner. On the other hand, if your client wants his or her day in court, which they do rightly deserve, they
will be able to get it much sooner than in the past.
For private hire attorneys, the Court will certainly cut you a little slack so that you can get paid before the set
disposition date. For example, your case may run on a 6-month schedule instead of a 4-month schedule. That precludes your
client paying you $20 a month; that isn’t going to get you paid soon enough to do that. So, with leverage from the scheduling
order, private pay attorneys should be able to get paid quicker, too. Your clients need to better understand the system and
their rights in the system. They truly do need their day in court if they want it; not be delayed time and again.
The DAs have an open file policy. They have a place for you
to work and review files. The District Attorneys will make time for you and make a place for you to review the files. You
can even get a firm appointment time if you need it. With this change in procedure you will need to go to the DA’s Office
well before docket day in order to take care of business. Court will simply be too busy to get it all done in the courtroom
on docket days.