A LOCAL MP is fighting to have one of two new district court judges based in Armidale or Tamworth to help deal with the backlog in cases.
Northern Tablelands MP Adam Marshall is ramping up his Judges for the Bush campaign on the back of Tuesday’s budget which saw $39 million allocated to alleviate the pressure on the district courts where trial dates locally have blown out by more than a year.
In Tamworth and Armidale, trials have already been scheduled as far as April, next year, with some accused set to spend more than a year in custody as they wait to have their case heard.
“Fly-in-fly-out justice is needlessly expensive, inefficient and, as we have seen, results in decisions which are out of line with community expectations,” Mr Marshall said.
The Judges for the Bush campaign was launched by the MP in May after outrage from the community to a sentence handed down for a group convicted of violently attacking police in Glen Innes.
Fairfax Media revealed photographs of the group high-fiving and celebrating outside court after escaping jail, which prompted calls for tougher sentencing and judges to be based locally so they knew the problems of the local area.
As part of the budget announcement, Attorney-General Gabrielle Upton announced one district court judge would be based permanently in Wagga Wagga, with two other position locations yet to be finalised.
Mr Marshall met with the Ms Upton following the budget and is calling for a permanent fix to the blow-outs.
“Our inland cities like Armidale and Tamworth are large enough, and regrettably busy enough, to more than justify having judges live in the regions they are presiding over,” he said.
“The current system of judges passing through our district courts in short stints to deal with cases isn’t working; it’s time we had a permanent solution so those in custody don’t languish for a year in a prison cell, and victims and witnesses can move on with their lives.”
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