On judicial treadmills, a rush to judgment? - LancasterOnline: News

On judicial treadmills, a rush to judgment?

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Posted: Sunday, March 25, 2012 12:19 am | Updated: 7:01 pm, Thu Sep 12, 2013.

Can justice be undone by the speed of York County's criminal justice system?

It's possible, said York District Attorney Tom Kearney.

"There should be a balance to this," he said. "Justice should not be just a treadmill process. Our system is very effective in moving cases, but is there time to reflect?"

Kyle King, administrator of Kearney's office, agreed that prosecutors are concerned that justice may at times be "short-changed" because of the speed of the process.

"We're going to be speaking with some of our fellow DAs across the state to see how they do things," he said. "When you're on a treadmill system, I'm not sure justice is always done."

Victims demand speedy justice, King said. That desire, coupled with the built-in speed of York's criminal court system, presents challenges.

"When cases move so quickly," he said, "our guys are forced to decide quickly."

In that sense, Kearney admitted, Lancaster County's slower system of justice provides more time for consideration of alternatives.

Kearney said that one of the biggest complaints about the criminal justice system - often coming from crime victims - is that it is too slow.

The flip side, he said, is if justice falters because the system moves too fast.

A defendant may not have time to consider all of the ramifications of accepting a plea agreement versus going to trial. Or a prosecutor may too quickly offer a reduced sentence in exchange for resolution of a case.

"At the end of the day," Kearney concluded, "we should be doing the right thing, not just moving the cases."

jbrubaker@lnpnews.com

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