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Fewer arrests made for those who miss court appearance in Colorado Springs due to COVID-19 changes

092320 COURT CHANGES

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (KRDO) -- It seems like something no one would want to miss, but the 4th Judicial District's top judge says every time there is a criminal docket someone misses their court appearance.

Chief Judge Will Bain with the 4th Judicial District says the majority of these court appearances take less than five minutes to get through.

"I generally have 30 or 40 defendants who have cases on the docket," Judge Bain said. "Pre-pandemic I would say there was always one to three defendants who just didn’t make it and when you don’t make it, a warrant issues.”

The defendants would then be taken to the El Paso County Jail. However, now with the changes the courts had to go through with COVID-19, Bain says there is another solution.

“All they need to do is jump on their smartphone or even a telephone and conduct a two or three-minute hearing," Bain says.

As for the El Paso County Jail, Spokesperson Jacqueline Kirby says it has played a role in reducing the population at the jail. “As the result of COVID and some of the measures that we have put in place," Kirby says, "we have been able to reduce our jail population by about 30 percent.”

Which is the lowest the jail has seen in at least 15 years. If someone still does miss their court appearance, Kirby says they are given a second chance. “Those individuals instead of being booked into the jail would be issued a new court date,” Kirby says.

The County jail is also installing a virtual tele-conferencing platform that will allow inmates to have their court appearances at the jail.

“So if somebody has outstanding charges in another county that participates in this we will eliminate the transportation of that inmate to a facility out of our county," Kirby says.

These new approaches are something Bain predicts might still be used by courts even after a vaccine is found.

“We’re doing things now that I think we’ll continue to do for the foreseeable future,” he said.

Colorado Springs / Crime / Local News

Chase Golightly

Chase is a reporter and an anchor for our weekend evening newscasts. Learn more about Chase here.

Comments

4 Comments

  1. I think most grossly under-estimate how many cases are pled out versus going to trial. You see for the DA’s office, a win in their books is a plea because it takes less time and effort, and they feel some justice, is better than none.

    I find it interesting that all of these entities require so much of our work to be data driven and supported my statistical analysis, but yet when one attempts to look up “how many cases were plead out in the 4th judicial district in 2019.” and “how many total cases were there in the 4th judicial district in 2019.” and “how many 2019 cases in the 4th judicial district were rolled over into 2020.” and “how many 2018 cases in the 4th judicial district were rolled over into 2019.” you can’t find these hard statistics.

    These are hard data points, one would think they would be pulled every year for their reports they pull to support the government funding. Yet it is not publicly published or released, Why?

    according to nolo.com

    “It’s no secret that the overwhelming majority of criminal cases never reach trial. The prosecution may dismiss charges, perhaps because of a lack of evidence. Sometimes prosecutors decide not to refile charges after a felony defendant prevails at the preliminary hearing. And some defendants escape conviction through pretrial motions, like a motion to suppress evidence. But most cases end pursuant to a plea bargain.

    Plea deals often make sense for both sides. The government doesn’t have the resources to try every case. Plus, it sometimes doesn’t want to run the risk of acquittal. Defendants, on the other hand, usually receive lighter sentences and/or end up with less serious charges on their records by agreeing to plead guilty (or no contest). Plus, paying a lawyer for representation through trial and sentencing can be quite expensive. (See Using a Private Criminal Defense Attorney.) On top of that, the trial process can be harrowing.

    The conservative estimate seems to be that over 90% of cases end in guilty pleas. The United States Courts website estimates that more than 90% of federal cases resolve this way. A 2012 New York Times article reported that 97% of federal cases and 94% of state cases end via plea bargain. (See State vs. Federal Prosecution.)”

    Our own system can’t even handle the weight of all of the cases now, imagine if every person refused all plea agreements, did not waiver their right to a speedy trial, and forced the court system to set up a trial for every case. This would force the court system to work within the confines our forefathers established for all Americans. all of a sudden, all of these frivolous petty and misdemeanor laws would be repealed and done away with and the judicial system would have too many felonious cases to handle.

    But for this to work, that would mean everyone would have to stop accepting plea agreements and force the judicial system to work. A by-product of this would be some cases having to be thrown out since the judicial system failed in providing the person their Constitutionally protected rights to a speedy trial. If everyone wants a trial, the whole system has a finite timeframe to get the case ready for trial. And since most DA’s offices are primarily trained to utilize the plea-agreement process, most don’t study the case files to adequately prepare for court. Imagine what a singe DA’s caseload of 30-40 cases a docket would look like.

    CRS § 18-1-405. Speedy trial
    Universal Citation: CO Rev Stat § 18-1-405 (2016)
    (1) Except as otherwise provided in this section, if a defendant is not brought to trial on the issues raised by the complaint, information, or indictment within six months from the date of the entry of a plea of not guilty, he shall be discharged from custody if he has not been admitted to bail, and, whether in custody or on bail, the pending charges shall be dismissed, and the defendant shall not again be indicted, informed against, or committed for the same offense, or for another offense based upon the same act or series of acts arising out of the same criminal episode.

    Stop taking plea agreements, especially if it requires you to waive your right to a speedy trial. What has shown it’s populace that the judicial system works like a well-oiled machine? Nothing. It is only the appearance of barely managing the caseload now, imagine what would occur if every case went to trial and all had to be done within that same window as it is outlined within the Colorado Revised Statutes.

    This is a part of your 6th Amendment, don’t make the choice for the government to have an easier time doing their job, make the choice to hold them accountable and do the right thing for yourself, demand a speedy trial and do not accept any plea agreements.

    1. You know….. sometimes you are sooooooooo long winded. No saying that what you type isn’t correct or interesting……..just very long.

      1. After leaving a career where I wanted and tried with all I had to help my community, I still have the desire and passion to continue helping, but with my beliefs, the only way I see I can do that is by publicly helping to educate. You know the phrase, ignorance is not an excuse, well I contest being uneducated as to how the system works, much more than the cursory education our public school system provides.

        I guess I look at it like this, the easiest way I can help. The problem is we have been taught TL:DR is an acceptable answer. This is merely an excuse for laziness and complacency. I condone neither of these behaviors. I strive to still make the world a better place than what I was brought in. There is a cost for education but when its freely given, understand to explain the 4″ section your pointing at, one must first gain perspective of the largest picture, then explain how that 4″ section fits in the entire process.

        Genuine intellectual one on one conversation works best. But writing on a forum teaches a larger audience.

        I hope this explains why I’m not sorry. But I am humble to admit if I am proven wrong as I am still a student as well.

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