Pretrials are huddles among the judge and the lawyers to assure progress of the prosecution and defense and to reach disposition without jury trial if possible.
Until this year, the Linn County district associate court scheduled a pretrial before the scheduled jury trial, on Wednesdays, with a final pretrial on the Tuesday immediately preceding the week of trial.
To remedy a perceived bottleneck in criminal prosecutions, the court has decided that an earlier court date—now called a “case management conference” or CMC—may assist the parties in the earlier filing of constitutional challenges, resolution of evidentiary disputes, and the completion of discovery and plea negotiations well before a jury trial becomes imminent and last minute delay necessary.
The case management conference in the Linn County District Associate Court, sitting in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, is typically scheduled no more than 21 days following arraignment as of this writing in September 2017.
That still allows additional days to conduct discovery and to file pretrial motions pursuant to the criminal rules unless otherwise proscribed by court order. Generally, delays in rare cases will not require rescheduling the jury trial which is set at least a month from the first CMC.
In Johnson County, the first CMC is held at arraignment as of this writing even if counsel files a written arraignment ostensibly to substitute for the personal appearance of the defendant at arraignment. You must appear for this first CMC even though the defendant does not typically appear before the court.
Outwardly, in Johnson County there is no requirement that the defendant submit a plea of guilty at arraignment. But the court requires the State to provide discovery and its first offer at or before that time, which generally is helpful to the defendant in considering his or her options early in the process.
Some part of me objects to a case management conference at arraignment. But I'm told it is speeding disposition and likely only to be adjusted for unforeseen circumstances.
In any case, the timing of pretrials, or, as they are now called, case management conferences, does not affect the merits of the prosecution which are decided by the facts and, if necessary, the jury. A defendant's plea, whether guilty or not guilty, is still well within his or her control.
If you or a loved one has been arrested for a criminal offense in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, or other Iowa community, contact David A. Cmelik Law PLC.
However, remember that a blog is not legal advice and that sending unsolicited information to a lawyer over the Internet does not establish an attorney-client relationship.
Checking in when you arrive at the pretrial, or, case management conference, please check in with court staff and they will mark your appearance. Remember that court staff have the ear of the judge and are not there to hear the merits of your case or other complaints. Your attorney will check this list and perhaps call your name if they can't spot you right away. There is no getting around that these are typically 'bulk pretrials' with many defendants facing the same or similar criminal charges, set on the same date, at the same time, and in the same courtroom as you. It will invariably take time. An attorney licensed in Iowa and limited exclusively to a criminal practice will be able to help you navigate this process. If you or a loved one has been arrested in Cedar Rapids, Iowa City, Waterloo, or other Iowa community, contact David A. Cmelik Law PLC for a free initial consultation today at 319-389-1889.
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