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It’s been a year since Antolin Garcia Torres, 22 of Morgan Hill, was arrested and charged with the kidnap and murder of 15-year-old Sierra LaMar.

Absurdly, Torres has not even entered a plea in the case.

This is a textbook example of why the public is so frustrated with the justice system which is replete with multiple stops and very few starts.

There are, of course, legitimate reasons for delays, but the system has become one that recognizes the drop of a pin as a reason to stall for months.

It’s time for judges like  Superior Court Judge Sharon Ann Chatman to use the gavel and authority invested in the justice system to move cases along, not just in high-profile cases like this but in general. Unfortunately, the system is training the lawyers such that they believe they are in total control regarding when cases will move forward. It’s a culture that breeds inefficiency and frustration among those – like Sierra LaMar’s family – who are waiting for the wheels of justice to turn.

Though it may be a political gamble – nobody within the justice system wants to anger a judge – District Attorney Jeff Rosen should strongly consider bringing some heat to bear when it comes to cases that are on the stall track to nowhere. Contrary to apparent current thinking, justice and reasonable speed are not mutually exclusive.

Making the case against unreasonable requests for delays is serving the public. Who in the justice system, for example, would not draw a parallel between the difficulty in fielding a jury  and the slow-boat-to-China nature of the justice system?

Of course there will be the familiar refrain that justifies the ad infinitum delays with “We don’t want to give them grounds for appeal.”

Denial of unreasonable delay requests should not be grounds for appeal. The sooner that message begins to be delivered by judges and district attorneys, the sooner the public’s faith in the justice system will once again become strong.

Without an insistence that the wheels of justice move more quickly, the slope to injustice for victims, their families and the public will become ever more slippery.

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