When you’re up against criminal charges, a certain amount of delays are expected. Rarely does the criminal justice process move quickly. But as a new investigative report from the New York Times shows, if your charges are in the Bronx, you could be waiting an exceptionally long time.
The old cases pile up there and the new ones are added to the stack. As of January of this year, 73% of all felony cases in the Bronx exceeded the court’s time targets—more than any other borough. There are more people waiting in jail cells waiting for trial in the Bronx than in the rest of NYC combined.
Because of this, lives are drawn out and forced to stay in limbo. People who are innocent but who are charged, sit in jail cells waiting. Just recently, a man was held for 3 years on a murder charge. Someone else confessed before he even made it to trial, making those three years a complete wash.
With the backlog so huge, new charges are kept at the bottom of the pile. District Attorney Robert T. Johnson and colleagues “routinely tell defense lawyers handling two- and three-year-old cases that they are too new to be dealt with.”
The court is understaffed and underfunded. There aren’t enough judges or courtrooms to get on top of the soaring number of cases. And the problems only got worse after two shakeups left the Bronx criminal courts with even fewer judges and a smaller budget.
It seems to be a culture of delay at the courthouse, where the NYTimes reports, even the mail is late. The prosecutor is busy, the inmate hasn’t yet been brought up from the pens, and the jurors have not been assembled. Everything seems to operate on a different time system. Even the judges come and go as they please, “Some judges wander into their crowded courtrooms at 10:15 or later without excuse or apology.”
Sometimes, in the case of criminal defense, delay can be a strategy. But more often than not, the defendant wants to move on with their life. If their charges are in the Bronx criminal court, however, that could take a while.
When actors within the criminal justice system get apathetic about justice, things like this happen. When judges don’t care about showing up on time, when prosecutors delay murder trials to attend picnics, or when jailers don’t get defendants to the courthouse on time for their court appearances, a culture of “who cares” pervades the entire system.
There are people who care, however, and it’s those people whose lives are on hold while the system takes its sweet time. For them, a several-month delay can take an eternity.
Whether you are facing drug charges or accusations of a violent crime, you need someone who will help you through the long and tiring process, working to get you the best results possible on your day in court. Contact our offices today to discuss your case and how we might be able to help.