Sept. 27, 2011
A proposed set of rules to govern the state's criminal cases would streamline court proceedings and make cases fair for prosecutors, defendants and victims, Mississippi College School of Law professor Matt Steffey said today.
The Rules Committee on Criminal Practice and Procedure, made up of prosecutors, attorneys and judges, has worked for the past six years to draft 35 rules outlining how courts should conduct criminal proceedings. The committee is currently seeking public comments before finalizing the rules, which outline how the officials should conduct everything from search warrants to sentencing.
"These things used to be governed by statue and court decisions," Steffey, who served as the committee's academic researcher, said. "There are rules that govern many aspects of things, but we have never had a comprehensive, uniform set of rules that has everything from start to finish and applies to all courts."
For example, a judge in Mississippi does not have to accept a defendant's plea bargain, and defendants can't withdraw their plea and go to trial if they disagree with the judge's sentence. Under the proposed rules, a defendant would be permitted to withdraw his or her plea.
The rules would also set a bond schedule for suspects charged with crimes, set deadlines for motion hearings and outline arrest procedure.
"These rules are to be interpreted to provide for the just and speedy determination of every criminal proceeding, to secure simplicity in procedure and fairness in administration, to eliminate unjustifiable delay and expense, and to protect the fundamental rights of the individual while preserving the public welfare," the proposed rules state.
The state Supreme Court must approve the rules and no timetable is currently in place for implementation.
The committee is seeking input from the public, attorneys and criminal justice advocates. "We are hopeful that the groups that are affected, particularly the trial judges, municipal and justice court judges, clerks, prosecutors and defense attorneys, will give careful attention to the proposals," Mississippi Supreme Court Justice Ann H. Lamar, head of the Supreme Court Rules Committee on Criminal Practice and Procedure said in a statement.
The deadline for submitting comments is Dec. 16. Submit comments in writing to the Clerk of the Supreme Court, Gartin Justice Building, P.O. Box 249, Jackson, Miss., 39205-0249.
I agree, there needs to be more consistency in sentencing laws, I'm afraid the prosecutors and public pretenders do way to much plea bargaining these days using it as a short cut to clearing desk, Plea bargain can be good to a certain line, but when you tell a Young man, take 15 years or go to trial and I"ll see you get 80 years??? just aint right!!! from sea to shining star, be consistent. AND WHILE your talking fair, check out our facilities especially the private money hungry facilities, they can charge an inmate with having a cell phone , write them up, risk them getting another 5 years , and never even have seen the cell phone. SURE inmates can file a protest/appeal etc , but I"VE NEVER heard of one winning an appeal. APPARENTLY the GUARDS are ALWAYS right!! FAIR IS FAIR. NOT TO MENTION if the inmate has the audacity to file against them, then look out , can we say retaliation???????????????? JUST MY OPINION!!!!