Time-for-Trial Final Report
The Time-For-Trial Task Force was created in March of this year. A number of factors led to its creation. First, Washington's time-for-trial court rules had not been thoroughly reviewed since 1980. Since that time, the only amendments to CrR 3.3 have focused on narrow issues. (An overview of the history of the time-for-trial provisions is contained in Appendix B.)
More recently, a number of issues surrounding the time-for-trial rules have surfaced. Questions have been raised whether the remedy of dismissal with prejudice is appropriate for all violations of the time-for-trial rules, whether our time-for-trial deadlines should be lengthened, and whether the appellate courts' interpretation of the time-for-trial rules need to be reviewed. In response, legislative bills were introduced in 2001 (House Bill 2228) and 2002 (House Bill 2704) proposing revisions to the time-for-trial standards.
Debate over the time-for-trial rules accelerated in January of 2002 following a tragic event, when a man raped a young woman and then, while fleeing the rape, killed an innocent motorist in an automobile accident. The year before, this man had been released from prison when his conviction of a "third strike" offense was overturned in the Court of Appeals due to a violation of the time-for-trial rule. The time-for-trial issue in that case involved the granting of a continuance when courtrooms were not available at the end of the defendant's time-for-trial period. The man has since been convicted of the offenses from 2002 and was returned to prison under the "three strikes" law.
On March 11, 2002, the Time-for-Trial Task Force was created by order of the Supreme Court. The Supreme Court's order directed the task force to "conduct a comprehensive review of CrR 3.3, CrRLJ 3.3, and any other rules and procedures that govern the time-for-trial for criminal cases." The task force is to submit its report with any recommended changes to the Supreme Court and the Board for Judicial Administration by October 1, 2002. The Court's order (as subsequently supplemented) also specified the number of members representing trial court judges, appellate court judges, prosecutors, defense attorneys, the state bar association, legislators, and crime victims. See Appendix A (the text of the Supreme Court orders). The Supreme Court solicited nominations for these positions and thereupon appointed the task force members. The list of task force members can be found earlier in this report.
The task force held its first meeting on April 26th and met approximately every other week into early October. Minutes from these meetings are available from the Administrative Office of the Courts upon request.
The task force decided at its first meeting to review the time-for-trial rules from top to bottom. The task force did not limit itself to the issues that had received the most public attention, but rather took the opportunity to develop and explore a wide range of issues touching on time-for-trial and related matters.1
As a result, the task force is recommending a broad array of changes to the time-for-trial rules. Part III of this report contains the task force's proposed text for revised rules on time-for-trial issues (CrR 3.3, CrRLJ 3.3, and JuCR 7.8), on incorporating due-diligence standards into the rules on issuing arrest warrants (CrR 2.2 and CrRLJ 2.2), and on time-for-arraignment issues (CrR 4.1 and CrRLJ 4.1). The text of the proposed rules contained in Part III are in legislative bill format, identifying all the changes from the current rules. The same proposals are presented in Appendix G in a format that shows how the rules would read if the proposals were adopted, without showing all the proposed changes in language. The minority counter-proposal for CrR 4.1 is included in Appendix H.
1 For example, the Washington Association of Prosecuting Attorneys and the Superior Court Judges' Association polled their members as to the relative ranking of sixteen time-for-trial issues. A summary of these two surveys is included in Appendix C.
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