The Fulton County Superior Court, known as the “Rocket Docket”, is under fire for its huge dismissal rates. Created to help speed less serious cases through the system, the court dismissed an average of 4 of every 10 cases in the second half of 2010, a rate that many say is unacceptable.
According to the Atlanta Journal Constitution, the cases are rushed which leads investigators little time to ensure it is a quality case. The judge on the “Rocket Docket” bench blames police and prosecutors for handing over low quality cases that simply can’t stand up to the due process of the court system.
The low level felonies handled here are expected to clear the system within 9 weeks of arrest. That’s pretty fast considering the number of cases everyone in the docket is required to handle. In the last six months of 2010, Chief Magistrate Hicks dismissed 264 cases and took guilty pleas in 345.
While the local District Attorney states the judges in the Rocket Docket pass out far too lenient of sentences in the cases that do make it through, the judges counter that argument stating they don’t have the time to fully analyze every circumstance of the case because the DA is pushing so many cases through that don’t belong.
One defense lawyer says the DA is sending cases forward when it simply isn’t justified. But, the municipal court, which would’ve handled less serious cases a decade ago, no longer handles criminal cases leaving prosecutors little choice unless they want to spend more time on the case or drop it themselves.
Serious cases that need more attention end up getting about the same attention as the poor cases with little to go off of. Prosecutors agree that the dismissal rate is too high and at least a few suggest the police are to blame.
Looking over the AJC article, it seems everyone is pointing fingers. Could it be a cooperative effort to clog the system driving the problem in the Rocket Docket? It seems some of the case shouldn’t make it to the courthouse in the first place and that determination must be made when a suspect first enters the system, by the police. The prosecutor can then cut a case loose if it’s missed by the cops or if they find reason that it wouldn’t be worthwhile to carry it further.
Regardless of whose fault the dismissal rate is, it’s the defendants who are benefitting from the problem. But when you are facing such charges, you can’t count on a high dismissal rate to get you out of a bind. That would be quite a gamble.
Instead, discussing your case with a local defense lawyer would help you determine the odds of dismissal or a potential plea bargain. If you’re facing criminal charges, contact our offices today for a free consultation.