Judge proposes ‘Gun Violence Court’ to fast-track homicide cases through legal system

BATON ROUGE, La. (WAFB) – Chief Judge Don Johnson of the 19th Judicial District Court is proposing to create a pilot gun violence court program in Baton Rouge.

We’ve talked a lot this year from leaders about the need for all hands on deck when it comes to stopping crime.

“So, it’s going to take a collective approach, the district attorney, the judges, everybody involved in the criminal justice system to address this issue,” said Baton Rouge Police Chief Murphy Paul (March 2022).

Judges giving low bonds to repeat offenders has been a hot topic. Many say it puts criminals back on the street to commit another crime, before their day in court on previous charges.

“We now have to sit back as judges and be in front of the corrections, not allow ourselves to be in the middle,” Johnson said.

But there may be a way to speed up the legal process when it comes to getting justice for homicide victims, and putting those responsible behind bars more quickly.

“The design model I propose is a Gun Violence Court. Speed ​​up these cases so that if you’re arrested, it’s certain, and you’re charged, and you’re prosecuted and, if convicted, let’s get this system up and running and complete in about nine months,” Johnson explained.

He revealed new details about what this program might entail. This includes proposing state legislation to assist and potentially fund this pilot program. It also proposes enhanced penalties for gun violence crimes across the state with legislation, and changes to bail standards when it comes to gun crimes in Baton Rouge.

“Let’s not have people waiting years and years to be judged for accountability. That’s what I’m promoting with the gun violence,” Johnson added.

The move already has the support of East Baton Rouge Mayor-President Sharon Weston Broome.

“I fully support Judge Don Johnson’s proposal to create a gun violence court pilot program in East Baton Rouge Parish. My administration has actively assisted Judge Johnson with this proposal and will work with the state legislature and Metropolitan Council to help make it a reality,” Broome wrote in a released statement.

There is already a Domestic Violence Intervention Court to help deter repeat offenders.

Lawmakers may have to pass some kind of legislation next session to give more money to the district attorney’s office and the public defender’s office to help make this gun violence court a reality.

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