by Richard Fitzmaurice — The Arc of Alameda County/President of the Board, The Arc of California
Today’s category: Public Policy
Anyone committing murder, rape, or any of a long list of crimes is a scumbag, right? Anyone committing a crime against a person with a developmental disability goes right to the top of the scumbag pile, in my opinion. That pile is getting pretty high. Did you know….
- People with intellectual and developmental disabilities (I/DD) are victims of crimes at much higher rates than the general public
- Getting convictions in cases involving a person with I/DD is difficult because the defendant is less than 100% verbal – sometimes quite a bit less.
- It often takes a seasoned and trained prosecutor for a defendant with I/DD to get a fair trial.
A bill authored by Assemblywoman Shannon Grove (R Bakersfield), will take care of #3 by ensuring the trained prosecutor sees the case to the end.
Legal Tweak Will Have Monumental Impact
Under the new law when there’s a case of a crime against a person with I/DD, the judge will be required to schedule the trial at a time that doesn’t conflict with another trial involving that same trained prosecutor. This will help DAs assign the right person to these often complex and difficult cases – even if that trial day is more than 60 days after the defendant’s arraignment date.
It all has to do with the constitution requiring a “speedy trial.” See, the State Supreme Court says a trial isn’t speedy if it doesn’t happen within that 60 day period.
The law already grants similar extensions in other complex cases such as murder, domestic violence and child abuse. Now defendants with I/DD will be offered the same protection.
Like I say – a seemingly small change but having a real pro in court on the side of a person with I/DD will make a huge difference.
Kudos to The Arc of California
Governor Brown signed the bill on July 27, 2016. The language of the original bill (AB 1272 Grove) was the result of the work of The Arc of California headed by Tony Anderson in Sacramento. Our lobbyist Greg deGiere did most of the legwork. What a great team! Like I always say, when you support The Arc you get a “two-fer-“ great services for people with I/DD and advocacy at the State and Federal levels.
If your curious about how the legislature managed the bill, click here.