The nonsense of Court Waiting Lists

NSW District Courts have a backlog of cases waiting to get on that is out of control.

Only recently, a trial that was committed for trial in August 2013, was adjourned for it’s fourth trial date to October 2016. All that time, the accused has been subject to bail conditions.

Now the NSW Attorney-General Gabrielle Upton has decided to try something by announcing a boost in the District Court budget.

Additional acting judges will be appointed, some more public defenders (more jobs for barristers) and there will be more and more days of courts. One wonders, where will all those courts sit?

But the sad truth is that the efforts will do little to ease the burden. Making prosecutors talk to defence lawyers ahead of a trial date won’t help – usually the prosecutors haven’t even been brief in the trial yet. Even if they are, there isn’t much room these days (so experience tells me) of any meaningful negotiations with Lloyd Babb’s version of the DPP.

Of course, in the meantime, working groups will be established almost certainly comprised of people from the DPP, Legal Aid and all the others – but very unlikely to be representative of the experience of private practitioners. What is to be done by government? Perhaps they should try changing the bail act yet again. It seems to be the one thing they’re good at.

Or maybe appoint judges from a more diverse background. Clearly there are problems. Perhaps we should look to who runs the courts for some answers.