A judge in Brunswick County, North Carolina has thrown out a number of DWI cases after prosecutors ran into scheduling conflicts and asked the judge to delay the cases. In legalese, attorneys ask for a "continuance" when they need more time to investigate the case, or other issues arise. Late last month, prosecutors say that a Brunswick County Sheriff's deputy had a scheduling conflict and would be unable to appear in a slate of North Carolina DWI cases.
At that time, the judge denied the request to delay the cases, and threw out charges against 16 people, primarily in DWI cases. Last week, prosecutors told the judge that a second deputy had a scheduling conflict and prosecutors asked the judge for a continuance in a number of cases where that deputy would need to testify.
The prosecutors say that the deputy had a training conflict. Last Wednesday, the judge dismissed 20 cases, again the charges primarily revolved around North Carolina DWI allegations.
Authorities in Brunswick County say that they intend to pursue the cases, even though the judge had thrown them out. Authorities are going through the motions to recharge each defendant, according to WECT-TV.
Anyone who has been accused of a crime knows that waiting for a case to move through the process can be frustrating. The judge reportedly has not indicated the basis for dismissing the charges in either event.
Generally, a criminal defendant has the right to confront witnesses at trial. Officers who allege that a driver was drunk on a specific date, for example, have to testify if a case goes to trial. The Constitution guarantees the right to a speedy trial, but the legal standards surrounding speedy trial rights are complex.
Source: WECT, "Judge dismisses dozens of DWI cases," Ann McAdams, Dec. 19, 2012