INSIDE SOURCES

Criminal justice reform needed now, says Utah County attorney

Jul 13, 2021, 6:25 PM
Leavitt cannibalism criminal justice reform...
FILE -- Utah County Attorney David Leavitt speaks during a press conference at the Utah County Commission Chambers in Provo Wednesday January 23, 2019. Photo credit: Deseret News

SALT LAKE CITY — Over-charging of defendants by prosecutors, plea bargaining, and the pandemic have all moved the US court system away from trial by jury, and that is not how the Constitution is supposed to work. Criminal justice reform is needed now, said the Utah County attorney.

David Leavitt, who has been outspoken on criminal justice reform, joined KSL Newsradio’s Inside Sources to explain why we shouldn’t over-charge people accused of a crime or condone prosecutorial misconduct.

Guest host and former prosecutor-turned-defense attorney Greg Skordas asked Leavitt what his vision of criminal justice reform would look like.

“We call it criminal justice reform because most people in the criminal justice system today have been around less than 30 or 40 or 50 years,” Leavitt said. “Those who have been at it longer would recognize it as more of criminal justice restoration.”

Under the US Constitution, juries decided if a defendant is guilty — not prosecutors — in order to move power away from the government and toward the people.

Plea bargains began during the Civil War, Leavitt said, and picked up momentum during Prohibition. 

“By the time we got to 1969, we’re plea bargaining 75% of our cases,” he said.

Leavitt added during the pandemic, jury trials were suspended, and today, nearly 100% of cases are plea-bargained.

He said prosecutors can over-charge a defendant to gain leverage in order to motivate the accused to plead guilty. 

“That’s just not our system. It places all the power in the hands of the prosecutor, and really who are hurt and damaged by that is all of us because we were losing our constitutional rights to a jury trial,” Leavitt said.

Skordas said receiving a jury trial today in the United States is almost impossible due to the  backlog of cases.

“The reason we avoid trials for the most part is because of this notion of plea bargain,” Skordas said. “I don’t like the word, either, but how does this streamline the process?”

Leavitt said as Utah County attorney his office has an obligation to give all defendants a speedy trial, but they don’t have that option because the courts are not allowing it, so an emergency measure must be taken to revive the court system. 

“To get this thing back on track, we’re simply going to have to . . .  get rid of a bunch of cases because we can’t mortgage our future to try and bail out from what happened with the COVID crisis,” Leavitt said.

Inside Sources with Boyd Matheson can be heard weekdays from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. on KSL NewsRadio. Users can find the show on the KSL NewsRadio website and app.

Today’s Top Stories

Inside Sources

A customer pumps gas at an Exxon gas station, Tuesday, May 10, 2022, in Miami. U.S consumers have s...
Curt Gresseth

UVU commencement speaker tells her story of rising from high school dropout to bank president

Mary Daly shares her story of rising from high school dropout through the nudging encouragement of her mentor to become president and CEO of the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco.
2 months ago
national debt...
Curt Gresseth

Ticktock: Congress needs to get serious about the ever-expanding national debt

A financial reporter says Congress needs to get serious about stabilizing the national debt which is now about the size of the economy's GDP and growing even faster with inflation.
2 months ago
Inflation caused gas to skyrocket....
Curt Gresseth

Sen. Mitt Romney talks inflation and economy

High home and gas prices and inflation, are causing real hardships for Utahns and Democrats will be blamed by voters, Sen. Mitt Romney told Inside Sources.
2 months ago
cheeseburger inflation...
Curt Gresseth

Why does my cheeseburger cost so much? Most ingredients touched by inflation.

A reporter joined the show and walked us through the reasons that popular cheeseburger ingredients have jumped in price since March of 2021.
2 months ago
A Utah woman shadowed lawmakers...
Curt Gresseth

Utah woman shadowed lawmakers to ease her political rage

Frustrated and angry with politics, a Utah woman shadowed state lawmakers to gain a better understanding of the process and to lower her own political rage.
3 months ago
a tax form, 1040, is often used to file taxes...
Curt Gresseth

What’s the holdup on my tax refund?

A tax expert talked to Inside Sources about new duties given to the IRS and why your tax refund is taking so long to arrive.
3 months ago

Sponsored Articles

Tax Harassment...
Jordan Wilcox

The best strategies for dealing with IRS tax harassment | You have options!

Learn how to deal with IRS tax harassment. This guide will teach you how to stop IRS phone calls and letters, and how to handle an IRS audit.
spend a day at Bear Lake...
Bear Lake Convention and Visitors Bureau

You’ll love spending the day at Bear Lake | How to spend a day at Bear Lake

Bear Lake is a place that needs to be experienced. Spend a day at Bear Lake.
Curb Appeal...
Price's Guaranteed Doors

How to have the best of both worlds for your house | Home security and curb appeal

Protect your home and improve its curb appeal with the latest security solutions like beautiful garage doors and increased security systems.
Prescription opioids can be disposed of during National Prescription Take Back Day...
Know Your Script

Prescription opioid misuse | How to protect your family from the opioid epidemic

Studies have shown that prescription opioid misuse has increased since COVID-19. So what do you need to know about these opioids?
national heart month...
Intermountain Healthcare

National Heart Month: 5 Lifestyle Changes to Make Today to Keep You Heart Healthy

Heart disease is the leading cause of death for both men and women. One person dies every 36 seconds in the United States from cardiovascular disease
Joseph Smith Memorial Building...
Temple Square

The Joseph Smith Memorial Building is an icon of Salt Lake City | Why hosting an event at this beautiful location will make you a hero this year

Here's why hosting an event at the iconic Joseph Smith Memorial Building in downtown Salt Lake City will make you a hero this year.
Criminal justice reform needed now, says Utah County attorney