Forcing courts to their jobs the solution to delays

August 20, 2004

Dear Editor:

A committee of Kentucky circuit judges has proposed a new rule at a June meeting that would allow them to dismiss criminal felony cases that received no attention by the courts after one year. This proposed rule has been endorsed by the Kentucky Supreme Court and will probably go into effect when they vote on the rule this fall.

This proposal is supposed to be a response to criminal cases languishing in Kentucky courts for years. Why have these cases been lingering? Because of inattention by the same circuit court judges that now want the ability to dismiss cases just because they have not had movement on them for a single year.

The court system has not been doing its job, denying justice to thousands of victims of crime and now they want to swing the doors of corruption wide open with the ability to simply dismiss cases becuase the prosecution is too lazy to bring cases before the grand jury or the judges are simply too lazy to set trial dates.


The reality is that this rule will allow judges the ability to delay cases in which they have some sort of interest and then dismiss them after only one year. This is asking for trouble and should be seen as an incredible conflict of interest.

The court system should never have the ability to arbitrarily dismiss felony cases. Where is the interest of the victim and the interest of public safety and justice? This decision is a further erosion of victims rights and an open inviation to corruption. Why open this door, Chief Justice Lambert? Why not make your judges do their elected jobs instead?

Between October 2003 and mid-May 2004, 17,955 felony cases that had been languishing in the court system have been disposed of, thanks in part to a series on the matter by the Louisville Courier-Journal. The courts however cannot give a breakdown of how these cases were disposed of because they don't record the reason for disposition. In medical billing, if a doctor or hospital wants to get paid, they will document by billing codes the exact diagnosis of every claim they file. Maybe we should make a rule that if the court system wants to recieve any money from Kentucky taxpayers, they will implement a similar system and start recording the reasons for disposition of cases so the public can be more informed the next time we go to the voting booth.

I know the next time I get the chance I will vote for public safety and victims rights, not corruption and laziness.

Stephen Knight


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