May 13, 2005 – Legislation supported by Michigan Attorney General Mike Cox could eliminate important judicial hearings that currently protect suspects' right to receive a fair trial, according to the American Civil Liberties Union of Michigan.
The measure, dubbed the "More Cops on the Street Proposal," is designed to eliminate probably cause hearings for charges in the vast majority of less-serious felonies. Proponents argue that it would streamline the judicial process while taking law enforcement officers out of courtrooms, where they spend time testifying in such hearings, and putting them on patrol.
Probable cause hearings help judges decide which charges must be thrown out for lack of reasonable suspicion or reduced because the defendant has been over-charged. They also present an opportunity for the defense to identify valuable information, and provide both sides the chance to determine the credibility of key witnesses.
"Streamlining the judicial process may seem like a good idea," said Kary Moss, executive director of the Michigan ACLU, in a press statement. "But streamlining our rights to a fair trial is not."