The U.S. and Illinois constitutions guarantee the accused the right to a speedy trial. A defendant not tried within the appropriate period is entitled to release from custody and dismissal of the charges. But can the right to a speedy trial be extended by the judiciary as an exercise in public health and welfare? The question is pursued by attorney Donald J. Ramsell in his December 2020 Illinois Bar Journal article, “Bad Timing.”
Following the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, many Illinois counties closed or severely limited proceedings in their courthouses. This delayed criminal trials for many criminal defendants—both jailed or out on bond—for months. The Illinois Supreme Court issued multiple orders that closed courthouses statewide and halted criminal and civil proceedings en masse. Additionally, portions of these orders declared that the 120-day and 160-day speedy-trial limits could be extended during this period of time. Ramsell tracks the evolution of these Supreme Court orders and their effect on an accused’s constitutional and statutory rights to a speedy trial.
Read more in the December issue of the Illinois Bar Journal.