For all practical purposes every Defendant in Missouri is guilty unless they hire the right lawyer. Consequently, thousands of men and women sit in jail every day because they lack the resources to post a bond. While the suffer in jail they lose their jobs, homes, vehicles, and sometimes their children. Since when is it just to punish a person before convicting them of a crime? Is it fair to take away someone's job or children without a Trial? You and me do this every day through your Justice system. I am very uncomfortable with that.
Tens of thousands more languish what passes for a justice system while waiting years for a Trial and, if they want a Speed Trial, they must specifically ask for it! Imagine having to specifically ask a Judge for Permission to read a newspaper, go to church, or join a club but this is exactly what Missouri says about a person's Right to a Speedy Trial. Every Trial should be speed unless the Defendant requires more time to put on their defense. Prosecutor's have millions of dollars in resources, investigators, and a raft of rules that favor the State's case.
A Jury Trial is a guaranteed right but one that few people ever have. The fact is our Courts are really set up for a Plea Bargain system which is wrong. I propose reallocating half the Court costs designated for the Prosecutor's Retirement Fund and using it pay for Jury Review of each and every Plea Bargain for any Defendant who requests it. The system is already in place: Grand Juries are available in every County. Further most Courts summon voters to Jury Duty without actually putting them to work. We already have a rules and regulations in place for governing the Grand Jury; let's substitute the Defendant and their Defense Attorney for the Prosecutor subject to the same rules. Plea Bargains can be reviewed for fairness: the Grand Jury can decide whether to allow the Plea recommendation of the Prosecutor, to exonerate the Defendant, or to reject the Plea with a Trial recommendation. This would protect Defendant's from abuse while providing for expeditious Justice with Due Process.
How many Plea Bargains does the Prosecutor for the County of Saint Charles make in a year? The Saint Charles County Prosecutor told me it would cost $116,000 to find out! This tells me that the Prosecutor so no clue about the productivity of his office or that he is afraid to shed light on the truth. If you boss asked you how much work you did would you be able to give him/her a rough estimate? Do you think a detail oriented person, say a lawyer and prosecutor, should be able to do the same?
I propose reallocating half the Court costs designated for the Prosecutor's Retirement Fund to create and publish a searchable, online database which shows us, by political division, how Justice is practiced in our State. By this I mean they should be able to tell us what the original charges were, which ones were dropped, and what the person plead guilty to or was convicted of. This will quickly highlight which municipalities, cities, villages, and counties are "Policing for Profit" and which are looking out for the good of us all.
Millions lose their right to self-defense after conviction of a felony. This may make sense if the felony involved armed violence but too often it involves felonies of another sort. We let politicians vote and run for office even after they are convicted of vote rigging, bribery, and other forms of corruption. We let business owner borrow money after they go bankrupt. We allow drunk drivers to have their licenses back after the complete a recovery program. So why do we tell women convicted of felonies involving bounced checks or other non-violent felonies that they are forbidden to protect themselves against rapists? Why do we tell men they lost their right to protect their families and homes for non-violent felonies? Do we believe in redemption or restitution? If so, how can we say they lose their basic rights forever? If not, why do we even let criminals have probation or parole? I propose the Legislature override the State Supreme Court's interpretation of Amendment 5 to include anyone who has completed their sentence.