The right to a speedy trial in Georgia: Part 2

Numerous Georgia cases, especially those in Fulton County, have been dismissed due to the state not following speedy trial guidelines.

As reported earlier, those cases have included murder, armed robbery and elder abuse. Here’s a look at some of those cases that judges ruled were dismissed based on defendants not having a speedy trial:

• Most recently, 2005 murder charges were dismissed based on the prosecution not opening the case for nearly four years. According to sources, by the time the district attorney even got an indictment, the apartment complex where the alleged killing took place wasn’t even standing anymore. In the beginning witnesses came forward confirming the shooters, however, the statements were later recanted as witnesses claimed to no longer be able to confirm who the shooters were. After the recants, the case sat cold with no more investigation until 2009 when new evidence was introduced. After an indictment was obtained, lawyers for the two alleged shooters asked for the case to be dismissed based on the state waiting too long.

• In another case a man was indicted in 2004 for armed robbery, however, in 2008 a speedy trial motion was filed after the man had still not going to trial.

• Another example involved a woman who was indicted in May of 2007 on charges that she abused elderly patients that were in her care. However, over the next two years, the case was assigned to four different judges. In 2009 her case was dismissed based on the fact that it did not go to trial since it has been reassigned to so many judges.

According to court filings from the district attorney’s office, these examples are just three of the 65 motions for case dismissal due to speedy trial grounds.

In the future, Chief Superior Court Judge Cynthia Wright wants to see a system created where felony cases are prioritized to go to trial in a timely matter. However, according to Wright, a fast track for felony charges isn’t the only answer, as the Fulton court system is also understaffed for the amount of cases that it sees, and with a downed economy, she does not expect to see more judges hired.

What happens pretrial can have a serious impact on the case as a whole. If you feel your case is not being handled in a timely matter, contact an attorney for legal advice.

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