When prosecutors re-enter Ventura County Municipal Court arraignment hearings today, it will signal an abrupt policy reversal by Dist. Atty. Michael D. Bradbury.
After the County Board of Supervisors cut his office's budget last month, Bradbury withdrew prosecutors from arraignment hearings to save money.
Once prosecutors withdrew from the hearings, plea bargaining came to a halt, leading to an increase in the number of defendants requesting trials.
"We anticipated some increase, but we didn't anticipate it to the levels we experienced," Bradbury said.
Bradbury has temporarily reassigned attorneys from the child support division to misdemeanor arraignment hearings for at least 60 days to deal with the backlog.
Moving the prosecutors "will have some fiscal or financial impact," Bradbury said, because the child support division brings in money. But it should allow the courts to begin operating more smoothly, he said.
The public defender's office favors the move because it will cut the number of court appearances a defendant must make and reduce the number of cases going to trial, Assistant Public Defender Duane Dammeyer said.