AS Bathurst Local Court lists continues to blow out, calls have been made for a full time magistrate to be appointed to the city.
On Monday 126 matters were listed before magistrate Cate Follent in the Bathurst Local Court, the Monday prior, there were 129 matters, with the court sitting well beyond 6pm on some days, just to get through the cases.
At a bail hearing before magistrate Follent on January 27, when the court was asked to adjourn a matter to the following Monday, magistrate Follent told the accused’s solicitor there were already 108 matters on Monday's list and she was not prepared to list any more, instead adjourning the matter to February 6, a non-list day.
Solicitor, Angus Edwards said the situation was untenable. Mr Edwards has been based in Bathurst for over 20 years and said the resources allocated to the court back in 1997 were the same, if not better then what it has now.
“The population has expanded and the number of cases dealt with in the local court has also grown.
“It’s gotten to the point on a Monday list day there are over 126 matters, and it’s simply impossible to find time to do justice not only to the process, but also the people appearing before the court.
“There is a limit to how much can be done.”
“Sitting late because of the overwhelming burden of cases is not sustainable, Bathurst needs a full time local court,” he said.
Mr Edwards said at the moment Bathurst has a couple of list days leaving only one day a week for hearings.
“Over the years extra magistrates have been brought up to hear cases, but what is needed is a full time magistrate sitting in Bathurst.
“The population has increased and the need for services has grown, we’ve seen a new hospital built to meet need, there’s more police in the area, and courts will only become busier.
NSW Country Labor Candidate, Beau Riley agreed, saying he first raised the issue late last year, and little has changed since.
“The court sitting times are in no way attributed to the court staff, magistrate, solicitors or police. It’s the result of a growing population and a court sitting schedule that hasn’t changed in over 15 years.
“If there are 200 matters and 6 hours’ court sitting time, that equals around two minutes per matter.”
“Domestic violence victims and survivors are waiting between six to 12 months for their matters to go to hearing in the Bathurst court circuit,” he said.
On Monday a spokesperson for the Chief Magistrate's Office said additional sittings will be allocated to Bathurst.
"The Chief Magistrate recognises Bathurst Local Court has a significant workload and has allocated an additional magistrate to sit on the Bathurst circuit for three non-consecutive weeks (11-15 March, 25-29 March and 13-17 May).
“The Chief Magistrate will continue to monitor the heavy workloads of the state’s local courts, including Bathurst, to ensure the most effective use of available judicial resources,” they said.
Member for Bathurst Paul Toole, said he would speak directly with Attorney General, Mark Speakman about the issue.