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Rapid Disposition Plan

Through Early and Expedited Disposition of Lower Level Felonies


The purpose of this proposal is to reduce the (median) average number of days defendants remain in jail pretrial from 49 to 20; and to expedite case processing to resolve 70% of all cases prior to Grand Jury.


15,000 felonies are processed in Cuyahoga County each year. 2/3 (10,000) are Felony 4/5s; 1/3 (5,000) are Felony 1-3s. The average felony case in Cuyahoga County takes 210 days to process from arrest to disposition, including 40 days to Grand Jury, 30 days from Grand Jury to Indictment, 20 days from Indictment to Arraignment; 90 days from Arraignment to trial or plea; and 30 days from verdict/plea to sentencing.

2/3 (10,000) of all defendants are on bail; 1/3 (5,000) remain in jail. The average (median) pretrial defendant remains in jail for 49 days. If 2/3 of all jailed defendants are charged with F 4/5s, and if the average (median) number of jail days for F 4/5s were reduced to 20 days, the direct cost savings to the county would be 2/3 X 5000 X 29 days X $100/day =  $9.6 million/year. Expedited resolution of 70% of the justice system’s caseload would result in similar reductions in workload for justice system agencies throughout the process, such as reducing the caseload of the Grand Jury and the police, prosecution and court resources required to support it from 25,000 charges presented to an estimated 8,000/year under the plan proposed herein.

By and large, all felonies are treated the same, although an estimated 2/3 of all cases require substantially less system resources than the 1/3 most serious and complex cases that need and deserve the attention of the justice system’s limited court, prosecutorial and defense resources. A program of differentiated case management in which the justice system’s resources can be allocated  according to the types of cases being processed will reduce the costs and time required to process felony cases and increase both the quality of justice and the public’s confidence in the integrity of the system of justice we all seek to provide. With a reduced docket, the Common Pleas Court could devote its resources to resolution of the most serious cases, and delegate the responsibility for taking pleas to magistrates.

Goals and Objectives:

Goal 1:

Dispose of 2/3 (10,000 cases) of felony caseload (15,000) prior to Grand Jury

Objective 1.1: Dispose of 10% (1,500) of felony arrests by plea or nolle at first appearance in Municipal Court

Objective 1.2: Dispose of 50% (5,000) of Rapid Disposition (RDC) caseload by plea or  Diversion, EIP, TIL, Drug Court within 9 days of arrest; and 90% (9,000) within 60 days. 

Objective 1.3: Present remaining 30% (4,500) most serious offenses to Grand Jury

Goal 2:

Reduce average felony case processing time by 2/3 (from 200 days to 70 days), including disposing of 33% (3,500) of RDC offenses within 30 days; 90% (9,450) of all RDC cases within 60 days; and 95% of most serious felony cases (4,750) within 90 days (jail) and 180 days (bail).

Objective 2.1: Police/Sheriff complete booking, including positive ID, defendant correctional status, warrant check within 4 hours of arrest

Objective 2.2: Within 8 hours of arrest, police obtain medical waivers, electronically file initial incident report; and PTSA/Court conduct defendant public health record screening, indigency eligibility, advise police of time and date CIF is due to Prosecutor and of time Grand Jury appearance scheduled for 10th day, and set bond

Objective 2.3: Within 24 hours of arrest, police, municipal and county prosecutor  electronically confer, County Prosecutor makes initial charge decision; court assigns counsel and first appearance held with a judge/magistrate. County prosecutor present to take pleas; municipal prosecutor authorized to take pleas or waive indictment. Defendant may plea out at any time up to indictment with prosecutors approval. 10% of all cases (1,500) plea out.

Objective 2.4: Within 48 hours of arrest, the County Prosecutor determines case differentiated case track—Prosecutor has the discretion to send all Felony 4’s, 5’s and any Felony 3’s, 2’s they feel are capable of being resolved quickly. Full and reciprocal discovery begins. Common Pleas judge assigned to concurrent jurisdiction and case track scheduled.

Objective 2.5: RDC court disposes of 33% (3,500) of all RDC cases within 30 days; and 90% (9,450) within 60 days. At 4th and/or 9th Day Hearing in Common Pleas Court:

a. All defendants, jail and bailed, present or participating by teleconference at the same court, and advised of procedure and trial rights en masse.

b. Defense attorneys meet with clients in rooms provided in person or by teleconference (jail and bail side).

c. Defense attorneys and prosecutors meet. Prosecutors give the best plea offer with the understanding by both sides that:

    1. the plea offer will not be offered again once it leaves the RDC Court and an agreed-upon prison sentence will be accepted by the trial court;
    2. probation is possible for most cases that plead out on the RDC docket;
    3. cases deemed suitable for diversion, EIP, TIL or Drug Court by the prosecutor and court will enter these programs without delay.
    4.  Case may be rescheduled for 9th day hearing.

d. If the defendant pleas, s/he will be sentenced immediately on misdemeanors and receive an expedited PSI on felonies. Probation officer will present and immediately read police report and conduct interview and write a short report.

e. Either side can opt out of RDC. If defendant does not want to plea and demands a trial in the regular Common Pleas Court:
    1. the case will be sent to the Grand Jury and presented by the 10th day deadline; or
    2. defendant may waive Grand Jury and the case will go immediately to  Arraignment on 15th day and first pretrial before a pre-assigned Common Pleas Judge on the 18th day.

Objective 2.6: Grand Jury: Prior to the 10th day,

a. All felony cases scheduled for Grand Jury action.

  1. Jail cases indicted within 21 days of arrest or dismissed without prejudice
  2. Bail cases indicted within 30 days of arrest or dismissed without prejudic

b. Police already provided guidelines for police reports and exact time to report to Grand Jury.

c. Field tests have confirmed drug analysis for indictment. Comprehensive tests to follow in preparation for trial.

d. Other cases that prosecutor wants to be heard before the 10th day, including cases from the 4thday/9th dayTDC track that opted out.

e. On the 12th day, the Clerk of Court files indictments from Grand Jury and adds cases to Common Pleas Court dockets for 15th day arraignment and 18th day pretrial.

Objective 2.7: Common Pleas Court Track – Dispose of 95% jail cases within 90 days of arrest, 95% bail cases within 180 days of arrest. Arraignment, pretrial and trial scheduling in regular Common Pleas Court:

a. All cases chosen by County Prosecutor for Grand Jury or cases in RDC courts that either party opted out will appear for Arraignment, first pretrial and scheduling. Discovery to be provided by State and defense to reciprocate within 10 days.

b. Schedule policy will be set by individual judge with objective of setting trial by day 45/90 for Felony 4/5s jail/bail, by day 60/120 for F 2/3s jail/bail and by day 75/150 for jail/bail others. Rape, homicides and complex case disposition goals to be set by case, but within ABA standards.

Objective 2.8: Sentencing Goals

a. Within 5 days, when possible for defendants being sent to prison

b. Within 10 days for jails requiring PSIs.

c. Within 15 days for bails requiring PSIs.

d. Common Pleas Court Cases:

Bail           Jail                                                     
Day 90     Day 45                        60% disposed
Day 120   Day 60                        75% disposed
Day 150   Day 75                        90% disposed
Day 180   Day 90                        95% disposed