New Jersey Chief Justice Seeks to Speed Trials, Reform Bail System


New Jersey Chief Justice Stuart Rabner wants to speed criminal and civil justice in his state, says the Newark Star-Ledger. He also wants to tackle bail reform in addition to what Gov. Chris Christie has proposed. A large number of people are awaiting trial in jail because they can't afford to post bail payments of $2,500 or less, Rabner said, “and that's not a healthy practice for a system of justice.” Rabner is naming committees to make specific proposals. Roseanne Scotti, state director of the Drug Policy Alliance, said residents facing criminal charges typically spend several months in jail while they await their trial. Last October, nearly 40 percent of the 15,000 in jail couldn't afford to post bail. Rabner expects the panels will report back to him within a year. He said some reforms can be made by the courts and others may need legislative approval. A group of 11 judges is already studying whether there are too many pre-trial conferences, whether there should be a cut-off date for plea agreements, and whether it takes too long to gather evidence in a trial.

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