Many clients have complained about the lengthy delays between criminal court dates in the Stamford / Norwalk criminal courts. I will try and explain the reason behind many of these delays. After COVID caused the closure of Norwalk G.A. #20, all criminal cases from Norwalk were transferred to Stamford G.A. #1. court. Originally this was a temporary arrangement. However, in late 2022, the Norwalk G.A. #20 court was closed, and the two G.A. courts were merged into one court – G.A. #1 at 123 Hoyt Street, Stamford, CT 06905.
As a result, essentially, two courts are now operating in one courthouse. They have decided to operate two courtrooms at G.A. #1 – one court for defendants who have no attorney or who have a private attorney and the other for defendants who are represented by a public defender. As the two separate G.A. courts have now been combined, that means that the caseload at the Stamford court is almost double as it now includes cases from New Cannan, Wilton, Weston, Westport, and Norwalk, all of which were previously held at Norwalk.
Since there is a space limitation on how many individuals can be seated at one time in each courtroom, they have imposed limitations on how many cases can be assigned to a particular date. This means that typically continuance dates are now 6-8 weeks apart. Before the merger of the two courts, a normal continuance could be 3-4 weeks. Since some cases require multiple court appearances to achieve the optimal resolution, it can become frustrating for clients as the case starts to drag on for several months.
Be patient and allow your attorney to work with the best strategy to achieve the most favorable outcome, even if your case will be delayed. While the wheels of justice may now appear to move very slowly in Stamford, the same great results can be achieved to resolve your criminal case. A lot of clients feel very stressed out that it takes longer to get their criminal cases resolved. No one enjoys having a criminal case pending against them, and most people prefer to get it resolved as quickly as possible. However, the top criminal defense attorneys will always tell you that time is on your side. If time passes since your arrest, the state’s attorney can see no ongoing pattern of criminal behavior, and the situation looks more and more like an isolated incident.
For those clients who have selected a jury trial at this point, the backlog due to the COVID closures of courts and the fact that no jury trials were conducted for a significant period due to covid means that there is now a multi-year wait to have your date in court for a jury trial. While some defendants may be eligible to file a motion for a speedy trial, it is generally a better strategy to allow time to pass so that witnesses will lose their memory of events. It becomes more difficult for the state to prove its case.
It is essential to speak with an experienced criminal defense attorney familiar with the Stamford court to develop the perfect strategy to resolve your case.