Speedy trial isn’t the answer to courts backlog

The Judiciary of Guam sent four measures to senators in September, including a proposed permanent change to Guam’s speedy trial law, to alleviate a backlog of cases.

But attorneys say the measures won’t address the backlog and threaten defendants’ rights.

“This is a real important piece of legislation,” Ana Maria Gayle, Alternate Public Defender managing attorney, said of Bill 411-35. “I think this is trampling way too much on our clients’ rights and I don’t think one hearing is going to do it.”

Gayle said more time is needed to vet the measure and proposed a roundtable hearing to get more input.

Introduced by the courts’ oversight chairwoman Sen. Therese Terlaje, Bill 411-35 seeks a permanent change to Guam speedy trial law. It was packaged with three other bills that Chief Justice Philip Carbullido wrote would “allow the trial courts to efficiently and expeditiously resolve its backlog of cases” that resulted from suspending non-essential court operations in response to the COVID-19 public health emergency.

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