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Implementation of the Speedy Trial Act - Hearing Before the U S House of Representatives Subcommittee on Crime, October 6, 1981

NCJ Number
Date Published
82 pages
Judges, a representative from the Department of Justice (DOJ), a defense lawyer, and a private consulting firm commented on the current functioning of Title I of the Speedy Trial Act of 1974 which sets time limits within which Federal criminal cases must be formally charged and tried.
Two district court judges from Michigan and California stated that their courts had achieved full compliance with the Act's requirement that criminal cases generally be tried within 70 days, and a judge from a New York district court had only one dismissal for failure to comply with these requirements. These witnesses also discussed the law's impact on civil cases, a slackening of the criminal caseload due to changes in DOJ policy, and ways to improve the legislation. The special assistant to the DOJ Associate Attorney General agreed that the Act was working and noted that only 17 cases of the approximately 30,000 filed by the DOJ between September 1980 and August 1981 were dismissed under the Speedy Trial Act. Of these cases, 6,550 were dismissed for other reasons. An attorney experienced in criminal litigation suggested amending the law to allow a minimum of 120 days to prepare for trial. He also proposed that statements of Government witnesses and grand jury testimony of Government witnesses be produced within 10 days after arraignment rather than in the middle of a trial. A representative from Abt Associates, the firm which has been reporting to the DOJ on the functioning of the Act, summarized its findings which now show virtually 100-percent compliance. She commented that innovative approaches, such as computerized systems for monitoring case processing and scheduling reforms, facilitated implementation of the Act in many courts. Court statistics and witnesses' prepared statements are included.


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