Social Issues

Waushara County Judge Guy Dutcher on speedy justice

Waushara County Judge Guy Dutcher discusses how shortages of prosecutors and public defenders in Wisconsin delays the application of the justice system to people facing charges and victims of crime.

By Nathan Denzin | Here & Now

January 24, 2023

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Guy Dutcher:
There's an important concept for people to understand when we talk about in particular criminal law, and the fact that these are not cases that we address, these are people. You have a person who, most of the time, has been victimized by what occurred, somebody who has had something come to them that has had a negative consequence, and they have been forced to address an experience that they want to put behind them. On the other side of the equation, you have a person who's charged with having committed an offense, who has an equal number of constitutional rights, and they want to put behind them whatever it is has taken place, to have this process that unfolds in a court system to bring a conclusion, however that conclusion may evolve, so that everyone can move on. And we are delaying that process. There's an expression that often gets used, that justice delayed is justice denied, and that applies, frankly, to everyone who's involved with this type of circumstance, whether it be the person who's charged with the offense, whether it be the people who have been victimized by what has happened, and the delays that are necessary because of the counsel shortage in bringing about the process of justice is very difficult for them. And I see that, frankly, play out on a virtually daily basis in my courtroom.

Nathan Denzin:
So that pretty much ends the questions that I had for you, but is there anything that we didn't talk about that you think would be really important for this story or that people should know?

Guy Dutcher:
I think it's critical for people to understand the gravity of the crisis that the court system is facing, and that our system of justice is premised upon everyone being treated fairly, being treated in a timely way. There's a constitutional right that victims of crimes and that persons charged with crimes have to the process moving forward efficiently and in a timely manner. And the shortage of the critical components, whether it be prosecutors or defense attorneys, who bring that system of justice about is creating a significant issue statewide that is only going to get worse unless it's addressed in a very, very steadfast way.

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