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Constitutional protection no guarantee of universal fairness

There it is, in black and white and stated in terms that could hardly be more unequivocal and uncompromising: "In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial."

That mandate is fundamental bedrock stuff in the American criminal justice system, being set forth in the 6th Amendment to the United States Constitution, which serves as the apex authority on lawful imperatives relevant to individuals accused of criminal conduct.

And it begs this obvious question: What is speedy?

Is that a couple months? A year? Maybe two?

Understandably, what is fair and just will differ from case to case, given that every criminal prosecution involves unique facts and details.

Certainly, though, it can be argued that 10 years can never be accepted as an acceptable timeframe to resolve a criminal matter in North Carolina or anywhere else across the country, much less even get one to trial.

And yet, that is where the matter presently sits for one individual in Alabama who was accused of killing a man in a botched drug deal.

That man is currently awaiting trial on a charge of capital murder (which carries a potential death sentence) that was filed against him … in 2007.

Fast forward nearly a decade, and the central bottom line in that individual's case is this: He is still waiting for the above-cited constitutional guarantee of a trial conducted with due dispatch to kick in.

Manifestly, the process hasn't been "speedy." His mother says, "It's like they snatched up my child, put him in a cage and threw away the key."

The case is an anomaly, to be sure, yet it serves as a reminder that things can -- and sometimes do -- go wrong in the criminal justice system.

A proven criminal defense attorney will always be duly focused upon fundamental fairness and best-case results in a criminal matter. And that focus will squarely encompass a fair timeline for resolving the legal challenges that a client faces.

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