OKLAHOMA CITY – Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt signed a bill on Friday accelerating the preliminary hearing process in criminal court cases.
McKenzie’s Law goes into effect on November 1.
The new law is named after a northeast Oklahoma child who was sexually abused, and the suspect’s preliminary hearing dragged out over two years.
Now, a court must hold a preliminary hearing no later than nine months from the suspect’s initial appearance. If the hearing is delayed past that time, the court must schedule a show cause hearing to explain the reason for the delay. If the court fails to find good cause, a preliminary hearing must be scheduled as soon as practicable.
“It’s unconscionable to make victims of a crime, like young McKenzie, wait years for a review of their cases,” said Rep. Sheila Dills, R-Tulsa, in a prepared statement.
The victim and their families deserve a swift end to the court process so they can move past the crimes committed against them and seek the healing they need, she said.
Dills also applauded the work of her Senate author, Sen. Darrell Weaver, R-Moore, for his work in securing passage of the bill in that chamber.
“It is so important that we remember the rights of the victims in our criminal justice system,” said Sen. Darrell Weaver, R-Moore.
This bill is aimed at getting the wheels of justice to turn a little faster, he said.