People in New York who find themselves arrested and facing criminal charges know they are in a tough position. They should also be able to know and trust that their rights will be respected through the entire criminal justice process. One of the rights that every defendant is supposed to be entitled to is the right to a speedy trial.
As reported by The New York Times, it was discovered that in the Bronx a few years ago, trials were anything but speedy. This left many defendants facing hard choices about how and when to make court appearances when trying to balance the demands of their jobs and family life. It also interfered with their ability to move forward in their lives as decisions about the charges remained undecided for extremely long periods of time.
Two years ago, in 2016, a class action lawsuit was filed because of this problem. In June of 2016, there were more than 2,400 cases involving misdemeanor charges waiting to be heard on the docket in the Bronx. The lawsuit asserted that this violated the rights of the defendants in these cases.
Since the initiation of the suit, the court has made changes and as of July 2018, there were 509 cases pending in misdemeanor courts. A recent ruling in the lawsuit also has granted defendants the right to request expedited processing of their case. Courts must also provide regular reports on their case handling and progress. The final decision does require approval by a United States District Court Judge.