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Court clean-up

NEXT week’s state budget will see a $210 million investment to try and clear backlogs in the court system caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Attorney-general, Jaclyn Symes announced Thursday the government would provide a funding boost to speed up court matters by appointing more judicial officers and technology upgrades.

The state’s court system has experienced significant backlogs in the past year after COVID-19 restrictions introduced in March 2020 led to most cases being adjourned to reduce the number of people physically attending court.

While some matters went ahead through an online format and in-person appearances for most cases resumed in October, courts were still seeing large numbers of cases adjourned.

The backlog was on show in the Hamilton Magistrates Court on Wednesday, when a man intending to contest a criminal damage charge requested a short adjournment to allow police to provide disclosure evidence, was told the earliest date his case could return to court was three months away.

Another man contesting family violence-related assault charges also had his case adjourned for two weeks because the court was unable to find a date where his one-day hearing could be held.

Ms Symes said $34.8 million would be allocated to reduce waiting times through extra resources, including case management programs, expanded online services and more staff.

The appointments of up to four County Court judges will be brought forward ahead of upcoming retirements, while funding will be provided for two more judicial registrars.

Judicial registrars are officers of the court who help manage workloads by hearing certain minor matters in place of a magistrate.

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