The right to a speedy trial in Georgia: Part 1

The Georgia Supreme Court has been upholding trial judge’s rulings on dismissing numerous criminal cases due to the state waiting too long to bring a case to trial.

A recent Atlanta Journal-Constitution article examined why the state’s Supreme Court is dismissing such a large number of cases, and reported that the majority of these request to dismiss are coming out of Fulton County. These dismissed cases are also those that are considered serious felonies, like murder and armed robbery.

According to court filings by the district attorney’s office, in the Fulton Superior Court in the past five years there have been 65 motions filed to dismiss indictments based on speedy trial grounds. Of those 65 filings, 20 were granted, which included eight murder cases.

Statistics also point to a large number of people who have pending cases, which depending on how long the state waits, could also end up being dismissed. For example, the Fulton DA’s office indicted more than 10,000 cases in 2009, yet the Georgia Supreme Court learned there are 5,100 defendants who have had charges pending for two years.

According to sources, when the courts are looking at speedy trial motions, four factors must be weighed: how long the delay was, the reason for the delay, whether a defendant asserted his or her right to a speedy trial and if the delay was considered prejudicial against the defendant.

If a person believes his or her case did not receive a speedy trial, or if a defendant is still waiting to be formally charged, an experienced criminal defense attorney can help explain the options that are available to dismiss or even appeal a case.

Source: The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, “Fulton cases thrown out because trials long delayed,” Bill Rankin, November 14, 2010