Justice isn’t swift in New York City’s federal courts, Newsday reports. A flood of informants – particularly those involved in the mob – as well as death penalty and complex fraud indictments have contributed to a sharp increase in the length of time it takes to complete federal cases. Adding to the delays have been new federal legislation making pretrial discovery more lengthy and U.S. Supreme Court rulings about the controversial federal sentencing guidelines.
The median time from the filing of a charge to acquittal or sentencing in fiscal 2006 in Brooklyn was 15.6 months, up from 10.1 months five years earlier. In Manhattan over the same period of time, the median time rose to 16.7 months from 12.3 months. Department of Justice statistics collected by the nonprofit Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse show that the trend of lengthening prosecution time remains consistent as far back as 1986. New York courts rank at the bottom when it comes to speed in processing cases. The top-ranked court is New Mexico, with a median case completion time of 3.4 months. The special dynamics of federal death penalty cases, including rigorous jury selection and pretrial investigation, are believed to be contributing to Brooklyn’s increase in case-processing time. So far this year, there have been four death penalty trials, with four others looming. “Do I think it [the death penalty] affects the time? Yeah, no question about it,” said Chief Judge Raymond Dearie.