What is the definition of "assembly line justice" and what is the cause of it?When is the right to a speedy trial violated? What is the role of the prosecutor?
Assembly line justice is a phrase that was coined several years ago and refers to the processing of criminal defendants through the criminal justice system. In most jurisdictions jails are overcrowded with defendants waiting on trial. Assembly line justice is sort of a misnomer because assembly lines move swiftly. The criminal justice system moves very slowly in part by design and in part because of the sheer numbers. The cause of the so called assembly line justice is just that: the large number of criminal defendants in the system.
The Bill of Rights gives us the concept of a speedy trial. The framers, however, did not put a time limit on how long a defendant must wait until he goes to trial. Even if they would have, I'm sure it would have been amended by now. Unfortunately, what the defendant considers speedy and what the system considers speedy are often at odds. I have worked part time for a couple of lawyers for the last ten years and have personally seen cases that took 5 and 6 years to go to trial. I remember one case in which we filed a speedy trial motion and the case actually went to court exactly one year later.
The role of the prosecutor is to prosecute criminal defendants in his/her jurisdiction. Prosecutors are employed by the government and work on behalf of the people.