A lawsuit in federal court accuses a local Ohio court, along with the judge of that court and an Ohio city near Cincinnati, of violating the constitutional rights of several defendants.
Specifically, the court is accused of effectively allowing the police to hold people in jail without either setting a bond automatically or arranging for the suspect to appear before the judge so that a bond could be set.
Several people say they were detained in jail without a bond or a hearing for several days, and they are now seeking to be certified as a litigation class, a move which would allow them to sue the court as one body. Constitutional precedent suggests that a person should have to wait only around 48 hours before getting to see a judge, unless they already have an option to post bond.
One of the alleged victims was initially arrested for drunk driving and weapons charges. However, these charges were eventually dropped for one reason or another. Still, the man, a combat veteran, had to spend 5 days in jail before getting a court hearing so he could post bond. It is not clear what happened to the man’s job or personal life while he was awaiting a hearing.
Although this lawsuit is civil in nature, it illustrates an important point. The Constitution and other laws often impose strict deadlines on when prosecutors, or the court, have to have certain steps of a criminal case accomplished. If they fail to do so, then, it could endanger the entire criminal case on procedural grounds as well as be a violation of one’s civil rights.
It is therefore an important function of a criminal defense attorney responding to drug crimes or other charges to hold the state and the court to its deadlines.