Court officials in Norwalk, Ca., say they are resolving a logjam of criminal cases at the Norwalk Court, reports the Whittier Daily News. A snag occurred in the Early Disposition Program, which allows some nonviolent felony defendants to quickly plead guilty to lesser charges in return for reduced sentences. In May, the program handled 200 fewer cases than in April. As a result, those 200 cases went directly to frazzled judges who rushed to complete their daily calendars.
Although officials said the problem has been resolved, the logjam appeared to spill over into this month. Lilia Rosenthal, whose son is facing spousal- abuse charges, was baffled when the judge seemed to hurry through the proceedings, spending about five minutes on the case. “They just rushed through. I don’t understand what just happened,’ she said. Norwalk supervisign Judge Peter Espinoza said, “We receive thousands of felony filings every year in this district. The vast majority will resolve through some sort of plea agreement. This program allows us to get that plea earlier rather than later.” Last year, the the program handled many as 800 cases.`Cases that qualify for early disposition include driving under the influence, embezzlement, theft and other charges with a potential “strike” against defendantd. California’s “three- strikes’ law mandates life sentences for three-time violent felony offenders.