Dec 12, 2010
along so swiftly. What so many Connecticut resident's don't realize is that murder
trials generally don't begin for an average of 3-4 years from the time of the actual murder(s):
We are a state notorious for time- consumptive individual voire dire processes, (the jury selection process whereby the attorneys involved in a violent crime case question each potential juror separately, and ad nauseum, leading to a colossal waste of time, adding more motivation to the court to simply plea bargain a case in order to avoid a trial )Aswell as an over- liberalized system that has become hijacked by defense attorneys, thanks to a Judiciary committee (comprised largely of attorneys themselves) and a state legislature,whose many members seem to suffer from a reflexive class-guilt that seems to compel them to empathize more easily with chronic offenders than with the victims and future victims of these offenders.
It has gotten to the point where even many Judges expect, and indeed, defend the "norm:" which appears to be a minimum of a three year wait from the date of a crime's commission to the advent of a jury selection. Case in point, Judge Damiani, currently retired but presided over the early court machinations of the Petit murder case. More aptly, he presided over the barrage of continuances that served as "pre-trial hearings" for the Petit case. This wait is not exclusive to that case, it is pretty much the norm for all violent crime cases in this state, including rape, murder and capital murder.
This ever widening time berth between a crime's occurrence and its actual Judicial resolution is one of the few things that is indeed color and class blind. The highly publicized Petit family capital murder case fell victim to it, in effect, a second victimization for William Petit and his family members, this time at the hands of the State's Judicial process,.
Two years after the murders of Jennifer, Hayley and Michaela Petit, the presiding Judge appeared to take it as a personal affront when William Petit dared complain about the length of time that had passed between the crimes that left him with severe head injury and no wife, children nor home, and the slightest signs of a trial being scheduled. He was given what amounted to a tongue-lashing, in open court. This, when the State Victim's Advocate brought Petit's concerns to the Judge. As I recall, when admonishing Petit, the Judge cited that a three year wait for a trial was well within the" normal parameters for a capital murder case"
And, he added," he considered it an insult to both he and his court" that Petit had implied that this wait was ludicrous..
I'm not sure why the Jasper Howard case has moved so swiftly through our court's usually hapless pace.
It could be the young man's celebrity that has helped move our normally sluggish judicial system along faster than it's norm, or perhaps there is an unusually dedicated prosecutor and/or presiding judge involved in the case. Whatever the reason, I am glad to see that it is happening for any victim of violent crime for the sake of their family and thier legacy in this world. They need a voice, their voice has been silenced.
I recently wrote an article about the Connolly murders that took place in Fairfield Connecticut; my home town. The Connolly's were the much loved long-time.married owners of a local Jewelry store, they were shot to death by a repeat felon with his girlfriens acting as lookout. The murders occurred in 2005, the suspects were in custody within weeks, yet for some reason, November 2010 finally marked the completion of jury selection for the defendant in these murders.. Six years after a brutal double murder, and the trial is just now being scheduled. for 2011.
Something is terribly wrong here.
The Connecticut Legislative body needs to roll up their collective sleeves, pass a crime bill that enforces clear time limits between a crime's occurrence and when it is tried, or resolved by plea bargain. The right to a speedy trial should not be an exclusive right of the defendant. I daresay that a victim of violent crime and the family of victims murdered or surviving, have as much at stake as the defendant.
It is time that a legitimate article of victims rights is created and those rights become as rigid and unwavering as the rights of defendants.