Monday, November 3, 2008
An opinion that says Riverside County judges don't have to send criminal cases facing speedy trial dismissals to family law and probate courts has survived its latest challenge.
The state Supreme Court on Oct. 22 passed on a bid by the Riverside County district attorney's office to review the decision issued earlier this year by a panel of Orange County Superior Court judges.
Riverside County judges say the protection to minors and vulnerable people offered by family law and probate courts should not be disrupted by criminal cases. They have said those courts and others also deal with issues of public safety.
Prosecutors said a state law giving criminal cases facing speedy trial dismissal precedence over civil matters includes not only civil trial courts, where business disputes and malpractice cases are heard.
They believe the law means such criminal cases should also be sent to family law and probate court, as well as traffic court.
The upheld Orange County decision means criminal cases that have run out of constitutionally guaranteed time limits can be dismissed, if criminal and civil trial courts are not available. Judges do not have to send them to the specialized courts.
Records also show the ruling remains "published" -- binding on Riverside County courts. The two challenged dismissals were misdemeanors, one for vandalism and the other for illegal dumping. [Mark Godsey]