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NJ Chief Justice Touts Need for Speedy Trial Law

The New Jersey Supreme Court has released the long-awaited report of the Joint Committee on Criminal Justice. The recommendations for major changes to the state’s criminal justice process include bail reforms and the enactment of a speedy trial law.

judges gavel
Joe Raedle, Getty Images

“Cases move to indictment and trial more quickly in some counties than others and regrettably it can take years sometimes for a case to go from arrest to trial,” said State Supreme Court Chief Justice Stuart Rabner. “Defendants under the recommendations would have to be indicted within 90 days for those who are held in custody pre-trial and within 180 days for those not. The period from indictment to trial would be six months for those held in custody and 12 months for those who are released.”

Under current New Jersey law, all defendants are guaranteed the right to bail. The report recommends giving judges the discretion to deny bail for violent and dangerous defendants. Specifically, the report calls for, “a constitutional amendment and enabling statute to allow for pretrial detention of any defendant for whom no conditions can reasonably assure either the safety of the community or a defendant’s appearance in court.”

The committee that produced the report was comprised of includes judges, prosecutors, public defenders, private counsel, court administrators and staff from the Legislature and the governor’s office.

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