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Editorial: Broken record? Guilty as charged

The past two weeks, we've written about how slowly the justice system moves.

This week, we're doing it again.

In March 2007, Hastings Police Officer Rene Doffing was involved in an incident where a man was struck by Doffing's car.

In February 2010, Doffing will get his trial. Nearly three years will have passed since the incident. And during all three of those years, Doffing will have been paid by the police department, even though he won't be behind the wheel of a squad car.

Following the incident, the city fired him. An arbitrator reinstated him and shortly thereafter (in February 2008), charges were brought against Doffing by Olmstead County officials.

Since then, the wheels of justice haven't just moved slowly -- they haven't moved at all. In December 2008, Doffing asked that the criminal charges against him be dropped. They weren't. And for nine months, so far as we can tell, absolutely nothing happened. Finally, on Friday, the two sides got together for a 20-minute meeting to schedule a jury trial.

The meeting was productive: a jury trial has been set. For February. Yet another delay.

Meanwhile, the police department is left one patrol officer short through all of this, and taxpayers are left paying Doffing's salary, even though he's no longer working as a patrol officer.