Justice Is the Crime: Pretrial Delay in Felony Cases

By Lewis Katz; Lawrence Litwin et al. | Go to book overview

5 / INDICTMENT TO TRIAL:
NONPRODUCTIVE TIME

DELAY AND ITS ABUSE

Delay in the administration of the criminal system is caused in substantial part by the lack of progress towards disposition of cases after indictment by the grand jury. Though excessive and generally nonproductive time is consumed by the formal charging of a defendant, it is in the post-indictment period that months of delay become years of delay. The time after indictment could and should be utilized to limit and elucidate the issues of actual dispute so that the prosecution and the defense can negotiate as informed equals on a plea of guilty or prepare to try the case in an efficient and speedy manner.

The case of Ralph Johnson, discussed in Chapter 1, is illustrative of both tremendously wasteful delay and the risks attendant on a failure to use the time for valid purposes. Initially indicted for first degree murder, a capital offense, Johnson was ineligible for bail. After nearly a year in jail and just days before the trial was scheduled to begin, the indictment was amended to second degree murder, a bailable offense carrying a penalty of life imprisonment 1 with parole available after ten years.2 At the same time, a prosecutor was offering, and the defense attorneys were urging Johnson to accept, a plea of guilty to the charge of manslaughter, which carries a penalty of one to twenty years 3 with parole available after ten months.4

____________________
1
OHIO REV. CODE § 2901.05 ( 1955.
2
OHIO REV. CODE § 2967.13 (Page Supp. 1970).
3
OHIO REV. CODE § 2901.06( 1955).
4
OHIO REV. CODE § 2967.19(A) (Page Supp. 1970).

-177-

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Justice Is the Crime: Pretrial Delay in Felony Cases
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page *
  • Acknowledgments *
  • Contents *
  • Introduction 1
  • 1 - The Origins Of the American Criminal Justice System 7
  • 2 - Delay In The Courts 35
  • 3 - The Decision To Charge: A Protracted Process 89
  • 4 - Bail 137
  • 5 - Indictment To Trial 177
  • Conclusion 217
  • Appendixes 223
  • Appendix A - Court Statistics 225
  • Appendix B - State Pretrial Criminal Procedure 247
  • Bibliography 367
  • Index 381
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