TOPEKA, Kan. (WIBW)__A new law passed this year is a move to speed up cases in the Shawnee County court system.
It will allow prosecutors to bypass preliminary hearings in some low felony cases.
Shawnee County District Attorney Chad Taylor looked at his department over the years and said preliminary hearings of low end felony cases were wasting tax payers money.
He said, "After looking at it, we realized that only under 8% of preliminary hearings that were actually scheduled were being made. The defense would waive or it would get continued so we would have to bring people back in and back in to testify."
The preliminary hearing is the step in the process where a judge hears testimony to determine if there's enough evidence for a suspect to stand trial. A grand jury replaces that step, eliminating what Taylor calls a huge inefficiency.
Taylor said, "Folks in the community who had to take off work to testify weren't happy and I don't blame them. This is one way we can expedite that process without inconveniencing the good taxpayers in Shawnee County...
The grand jury will consist of 15 members and meet once a week for six months. It's a move that District Attorney Chad Taylor feels is groundbreaking.
He said, "This is the biggest piece of criminal justice legislation that has passed in my lifetime. Definitely since I have been practicing law for almost 15 years. It's very important."
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Taylor believes the grand jury will hear anywhere from 600 to 800 cases a year. They will be seated for the first time August 7th.