The House Courts of Justice committee on Friday voted 11-to-4 to report legislation designed to eliminate judges’ discretion to delay findings of guilt in many criminal cases.
House Bill 750, sponsored by Del. Ben Cline, R-Amherst, would bar deferred disposition in any case where the facts would justify a finding of guilt unless the prosecutor agrees.
Cline explained the bill was helped by state budget experts who said the measure could save the state $6 million a year for court services to monitor the defendants. Budget officials reported at least 1,337 defendants had their cases deferred in the last fiscal year, Cline said.
A substitute version of Cline’s original bill includes the exception for cases where the prosecutor, defendant and judge all agree on deferred disposition. A measure that would have set a 60-day deadline for judges to rule on guilt in all cases was eliminated.
By Peter Vieth