Monday, June 21, 2010

What a waste of taxpayer dollars

I'm all for punctuality, particularly when a courtroom full of people is waiting for you. But having been present to monitor cases at the time noted on the docket, and having to wait several minutes (sometimes nearly an hour) for a judge or an attorney to arrive, I've come to expect that punctuality isn't always to be expected. In fact, I'm usually surprised when a case commences at its appointed time.

I received the following email about what happened to a DV case this morning.
I wanted to make you aware of a situation we had this morning for a domestic violence case that was set for trial. The victim confirmed she would be present for court this morning. She is extremely cooperative and very much in fear of defendant. The defendant and his mother have been threatening the victim to the point of a new criminal report being filed last week. The victim had arranged to meet with the victim advocate outside of the courthouse this morning to assure she would not be alone and to be escorted to a private witness room.

The victim was not present in the courtroom when the judge promptly called the case at 8:30am. The judge was very upset and forced the Assistant State's Attorney to drop the case (he plans to refile). It was later determined that the victim was waiting in the extra long security line to get into the courthouse and was here the entire time.
Given the fact that it is rare to have a victim of domestic violence willing to "cooperate" with the prosecution of their perpetrator to this extent, I am appalled that the judge forced the prosecutor's hand. If you've ever attempted to enter the Orange County Courthouse on a Monday at 8:30am, you'll know that the line is often out the door (a couple weeks ago, it even went all the way across the courtyard and to the curb where the news trucks park).

Is it too much to ask to give the prosecutor enough time to contact the victim to ascertain their estimated time of arrival? CourtWatch doesn't think so. Is the judge oblivious to the plight of the citizens (victims, defendants, attorneys, jurors and others) who are trying to get inside the courthouse on time?

We're not even going to talk about the mass of humanity that, once they're inside the building, has to wait for one of six elevators to cram into for their trip to the proper floor.

Not only were there about a dozen cases on the docket for 8:30, jury selection takes at least an hour to accomplish (once the jury panel is in the courtroom). So now the victim, who undoubtedly had to get emotionally geared up for her day in court, has to go back to square one and wait for her case to be refiled and processed for who knows how many months? Why did the judge want the victim there before the jury selection process had even begun?

What a waste of taxpayer dollars.

It reminds me of the Sorry! game our family often plays. You move your piece all the way around the board until you're nearly Home and one of your opponents draws the Sorry! card, knocking you back to the Start and taking your spot on the board.

Sorry! Ms. Victim. You won't have your day in court today.

By the way, I've not named this judge because more than one is guilty of doing exactly the same thing.


  1. This is a disgrace. Please help the victim in this case stay focused. Unfortunately, there are many set-backs along the way.

  2. and another thing---there is no security in the lobby or restroom areas outside the court and hearing rooms. You could be standing right next to the person who slit your wife's throat, or the person who has threatened to kill you.