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Series on Criminal Justice System in Los Angeles

January 02, 1991

There was a lot of finger-pointing in your series "Justice in Distress" (Part A, Dec. 16-22) as to who is to blame for the crisis that plagues our criminal justice system. Unfortunately, this finger-pointing keeps us from focusing on the real issue.

David Freed did an excellent job of identifying and documenting the real cause of the crisis--an appalling lack of resources. How can we expect our criminal justice system to keep up when there are simply not enough judges, courtrooms, prosecutors, public defenders and police to handle all the cases?

The Los Angeles County Bar Assn. is especially concerned because it is not the criminal justice system alone that is struggling to survive under the onslaught of criminal cases: Our civil courts are being overwhelmed as well.

Because criminal cases take precedence by law, judges who would normally hear civil cases are being "borrowed" to preside over criminal cases. The result is our civil courts could be forced to shut down.

A recent study by RAND Corp. found that the Los Angeles Superior Court needs 106 judges just to keep up with the new cases that will flood the court in 1991.

We must demand that our elected officials fund our courts, prosecutors and public defenders so that they can function as they were meant to function. Does our judicial system--indeed, do we--deserve anything less?

PATRICK M. KELLY, President

Los Angeles County Bar Assn.

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