Establishing Justice In The Time Of Covid-It’s Complicated
Yakima County Prosecutor Joe Brusic was back on KIT this morning for his bi-weekly visit. There is a backlog of cases due to the delays caused by health & safety considerations driven by the Coronavirus pandemic.
The Yakima Sundome is still the place where jury selection occurs and given the hassles and delays to the process, some defense attorneys are of the opinion that their clients can't get a fair trial.
Another part of the problem is the overwhelming caseload for both prosecutors and defense counsel. Due to the backlog of cases, the threat of a jury trial is not as pressing for the defendants or as much leverage for prosecutors in negotiating for a plea deal.
Attention to detail and burn out is a real risk when staff is over worked as well. In 2012 a legal case determined that a caseload of about 75 felony cases was a maximum and a breaking point for each attorney. Today Brusic says his deputy's carry 110 to 115 cases each.
Resentencing juveniles who were originally tried as adults is another addition to the workload for Brusic's office. If defendants were under 18 at the time of the crime but sentenced as adults, the State Supreme Court has said ALL these cases will have to be brought back for a resentencing. There is a lot of work ahead for the Yakima County Prosecutor's office,