In Alaska victims have a constitutional right to "timely disposition of their case."  That right is rarely realized as judges grant request after request for continuances in a case for fear of appeals.  Judges don't have enough control over the defense or prosecution to ensure that they are effectively doing their jobs.  There is no accountability or case-flow management.  Senator Hollis French is introducing a bill to help change this constant re-victimization.

Bonnie's killer was identified November 2006.  He was finally convicted and then sentenced October 2011.  It is not enough to say, "Well, at least the defendant is in jail and he/she won't be able to hurt anyone else."  Time erodes memories, witnesses and investigators get lost or die, evidence can get lost and so many technicalities could come up that could cause a mistrial, an acquittal, or a hung jury.  It is extremely harmful to a case to have delays.  Time weakens a case for the prosecution and causes more opportunities for a defendant to "get away with murder."

Families awaiting justice have their lives put on hold.  They live with an unbelievable fear of the defendant walking, especially in Alaska after Joshua Wade got away with Della Brown's murder.  Once the defendant is identified and arrested the family is virtually "gagged" for fear of causing a "change of venue," annoying a judge, or somehow harming their case.  Waiting is like having a cancer growing inside of you and not being able to do anything about all the delays. Imagine being told you have cancer and having to wait almost 5 years! In criminal cases, you can't decide to take your case to someone else or somewhere else.  You just have to sit there, saying nothing while you continue to wait.  Your life, as you knew it, is destroyed.  Relationships are destroyed, you often become a financial disaster.  Daily tasks become almost unmanageable.  Your children are going through a personal hell and you often aren't there to help and protect them.  The weight of the world rests on your shoulders as you try to continue living. You are now being victimized by those who are there to protect you and serve you.  Five years is too long. 

A defendant has a right to a speedy trial of 120 days.  Once they waive that right there is absolutely no consideration for the victims' right to timely disposition.  The court will claim protection of the right's of the accused, but rarely does it have anything to do with protecting the defendant's right.  

It is often more for the convenience of the defense attorney and the lack of efficiency of the Public Defender's office and the Office of Public Advocacy.  Judges don't have enough control of the defense attorneys with the constant threat of an appeal if any request is denied.  

Please take time to let your Alaska State Senator and your Alaska Representative know that you want to balance the scales of justice and protect a victim's right to "timely disposition."   No family should be held in fear of an outcome that long!  Ask them to support Senator French's bill for Timely Disposition of a Case. 

Thank you

Karen Foster