Prisoner Takes On St. Louis City Courts

     ST. LOUIS – A man who has been jailed since June 4, 2006 for his alleged involvement in car tampering claims the city’s justice system violates defendants’ right to a speedy trial. Tracy McKee, 42, says the delays come from a system developed a year ago, in which cases move from judge to judge rather than in a central system.




     In December 2007, St. Louis City judges, in a narrow vote, moved to scrap the system and move back to a central system.
     The Missouri Supreme Court ordered the Thursday hearing before Circuit Judge John J. Riley. If Riley finds the complaint valid, then McKee must be released.
     Such a ruling could bring hundreds of similar demands from defendants who have waited similar times for their trials.
     There are almost 4,200 criminal cases pending in the court.
     If Riley does not find the claim valid, a trial for McKee must be set within 30 days.
     Missouri law states that a court should set a trial date as soon as possible, but the Missouri Supreme Court ruled that a delay of eight months for a case similar to McKee’s is too long.
     Prosecutors say McKee caused two of the delays in his case, by twice agreeing to plead guilty only to back out. Judge Riley said he hopes to issue a decision today (Friday).

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