Justice For All - June 2012
This eighteenth edition of Justice For All is about the current criminal case trial docket in Clayton County. For July 2012 there are 41 “indictable” criminal cases on the schedule, which are cases punishable by at least one year of incarceration if convicted.
The types of the crimes set for trial this July cover multiple areas of criminal law. The two types of crimes that appear most often are drug related crimes including manufacturing of methamphetamine and possession of marijuana and traffic related crimes which primarily consist of operating while intoxicated, eluding law enforcement and driving while barred or suspended. Also set for the month of July are cases involving crimes of dishonesty such as theft and forgery, sex crimes that include sexual abuse and presence in an exclusion zone by a convicted sex offender, violent crimes including assault causing bodily injury and domestic abuse assault and property crimes that include burglary and criminal mischief.
Many cases my office is waiting to try have multiple charges of various degrees against a single defendant. The Court classifies these cases by the gravity of the most serious charge. This July there are six defendants charged with class “B” felonies punishable by up to 25 years in prison, two defendants charged with class “C” felonies punishable by up to 10 years in prison, fifteen defendants charged with class “D” felonies punishable by up to five years in prison, six defendants charged with aggravated misdemeanors punishable by up to two years in prison, and twelve defendants awaiting trial on serious misdemeanors punishable by up to one year in the Clayton County jail. This list does not include a number of simple misdemeanor cases which are punishable by up to 30 days in jail, a fine, or both.
The priority of cases, i.e. which will be first in line, is determined by looking at a combination of factors including: how long the case has been pending, whether the case involves custody of minor children, whether the right to speedy trial has been waived, and whether all parties are ready for trial or would need/consent to a continuance. Other case specific factors can come into play such as if a witness is only available on a certain date.
Only one case out of all of the civil and criminal jury cases can go because only one judge and one jury will be available on the trial priority day. On occasion an exception is made for a second trial to commence when an extra judge is available and the second trial is non-jury. All the trials that don’t get priority, which could be 40-41 criminal cases this July, must be continued to another date or resolved by the parties. With such a crowded docket of criminal cases needing attention, scheduling justice for all is a full-time concern.
Last Updated on Saturday, 30 June 2012 12:04