St. Lawrence County wants state to act on law that would ensure people’s rights to speedy trials
By JIMMY LAWTON
CANTON – St. Lawrence County is calling on the state to enact a law that would better ensure the right to speedy trial is met.
In New York State time limits are laid out for trials. These include 90 days for a class A misdemeanor, 60 days for a class B misdemeanor, 30 days for a violation and 180 days for a felony.These time limits are to ensure people get swift access to justice. The proposed leglisation would aim to eliminate abuses by the prosecution used to delay trials.
There are several reasons the speedy trail clock may stop running. A prosecutor can stop the clock by filing a statement of readiness, which is a certification from a prosecutor that the people are ready for trial on the date that is filed. However, legislators say this can be filed even if prosecutors are not actually ready.
“This is true even if the prosecutor has not spoken to a single witness, filed any of the necessary pre-trial paperwork with the court or litigated any of the various issues that may arise as a precursor to the trial,” the resolution says.
The legislation known as Kalief’s Law was introduced to the assembly and senate to tackle this issue. It would allow the court to make an inquiry of the prosecutor’s ability to move forward with trial and require prosecutors to actually be ready for trial prior to stopping the speedy trial clock.
“Criminal cases that drag on for years are a huge burden for defendants and they produce enormous cost for municipalities that must pay for housing of pre-trial detained defendants or monitoring of defendants released on probation,” the resolution says. “Current average cost per day to house an inmate in St. Lawrence County Correctional Facility is $105.”
According to legislators there were 1,069 inmates committed to the county jail and of those pending trial, assuming the charges of the speedy trial bill were enacted, 392 of these inmates would have stayed an average of 40 days longer than under the proposed changes.
Legislators say Kalief’s Law would have a positive impact on jail operations and to people accused of crimes.
Legislators voted to support Kalief’s law at a recent finance committee meeting.