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Procedure change could speed courts
ROLLA, Mo. (June 6, 2009) — A minor procedural change proposed by local judges and Pulaski County Circuit Clerk Rachelle Beasley may have major financial benefits to the cash-strapped county.

Meeting Friday afternoon in an “en banc” session — a twice-per-year council of the eight judges of the 25th Judicial Circuit that sets policy for the courts of the four-county circuit — judges approved a policy change that Beasley said will move cases through the system more quickly and reduce the amount of time defendants have to stay in jail awaiting trials.

“Defendants will be brought up from jail within a few days of being arrested, the associate judge will review the file, and the defendant will be counseled on having an attorney. He’ll be referred to a public defender or decide to represent himself. The judge can then take up a public defender request, or deny it,” Beasley said after the meeting in which the judges approved the policy change.

“I think it’s a win-win for everybody,” Beasley said.

The problems most often come up with probation revocation hearings, Beasley said, because more than one judge is sometimes involved in revoking a defendant’s probation.

“I think it’ll reduce the amount of time that it takes a defendant to be heard on a probation revocation and it should reduce it by anywhere from 35 to 45 days. In turn it would reduce the amount of money the county spends for prisoner board,” Beasley said.

Associate Circuit Judge Ralph Haslag said he was already pleased with the speed of the eight judges of the circuit.

“I think we are smoking every rural circuit in Missouri on how fast we are moving our cases along,” Haslag said. “We may have a little more of an issue in our complex cases, particularly on Fort Leonard Wood, but most of our cases are moving along.”

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