Two General Sessions Court judges cracked down this week on defendants who failed to appear in court to answer criminal charges. Judges David Bales and Bob Moon issued more than 50 arrest warrants to have "no show" defendants brought in.
Also, bonds were increased significantly.
Judge Moon said, "Defendants who fail to appear in court are proven flight risks. Many have failed to appear on other charges in the past. I set many bonds on those who failed to appear this week at $10,000 or more. Many will most likely not be able to make bond. Their irresponsible absences will be very inconvienent and expensive for them.
"Some will sit in jail for a very long time before their cases come back up for trial. I had one defendant before me who was charged with attempted first-degree murder who missed court two times. I asked him why he failed to appear and he responded, 'I forgot.'"
Judge Bales said, "The additional cost to the taxpayers when people fail to appear is significant. I had several witnesses and victims who missed work, received parking tickets and will be victimized again by having to come back to court when the defendants are found and re-arrested."
Both judges imposed additional active jail time on several defendants who appeared before them this week and who had multiple failure to appears.
Judge Moon said, "We have a significant 'breakdown' in the judicial commissioner system. Bonds are inadequate in too many cases, and too many dangerous defendants are receiving own recognizance bonds when they should not be. As a result, too many dangerous, violent and drug-addicted defendants with significant criminal histories are being released back to an endangered public based upon inadequate bonds."
Judge Bales said, "The judicial commissioner system is a necessary component part of our criminal justice system. It works very well in all other areas of the state. The problem is not with the program. It is with some of the personnel."
More than 1,500 defendants have failed to appear in the Hamilton County General Sessions Court since January of this year.