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The Virtual Court

By Wilco - 26 May 2010 7

Simon Corbell’s proposal for a new ‘virtual court’ seems to have ruffled more than a few feathers of our resident legal eagles. Both the ACT Bar Association and some individual barristers have really worked themselves up into quite a lather.

Why this should be so is a little beyond me. I suspect that behind the Bar’s outrage, it and some of its members are somewhat miffed because the ACT Government has refused to appoint a fifth judge to the Supreme Court, thus denying some of its more ambitious members the opportunity to park their posteriors on the Bench.

The Law Society has yet to declare its hand but it seems likely to get into bed with the Bar.

What both learned friends and their professional associations conveniently overlook is the cost of a 5th judge. Government figures put this at around $850,000 per annum – hardly the sort of stuff that grows on trees when legal welfare groups are crying out for increased funding.

It’s well settled that the workload of the Supreme Court has increased in recent years, particularly in its criminal jurisdiction.  It’s also well settled that something needs to be done to reduce delays and improve access to justice. But at what cost?

The additional funding for the new virtual court is estimated at some $275,00 per annum. This represents a saving of some $575K per annum – plus a few bruised egos in Blackburn Chambers.

What’s Your opinion?


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7 Responses to
The Virtual Court
Wilco 11:49 am 02 Jun 10

Interesting stouch in the Crimes letters page between two learned friends and the Attorney.

It seems the Bar now thinks that sentencing standards are slipping in the Magistrates Court. Apparently, so the argument goes, when it comes to sentencing, some of the magistrates are thought by some barristers to be to the right of Judge Jeffreys; and it needs another idealogically sound (read ‘soft’) Supreme Court judge to either deal with perceived excesses of the lower court, or conduct trials where defendants exercise their right to trial in the Supreme Court on indictable matters in the hope of drawing a ‘soft’ judge, and thus avoid the ‘Bloody Assize’ of Knowles Place.

With the greatest of respect, this is judge shopping at its most blatant. And is it more than mere coincidence that in Supreme Court trials, representation is usually the province of learned counsel with a fee on brief plus daily refreshers – something not normally found in the Magistrates Court?

johnboy 10:14 am 27 May 10

dtc said :

NSW has the common law and the equity supreme courts . . . (ok, so they are the same court).

I think the OP is a bit misguided – no competent Blackburn chambers barrister wants to become a judge – then they have to spend their days listening to all the not so competent barristers, for less money than they currently earn, and they can’t do long Friday lunches at various Civic venues. Hence most of our recent judges coming from interstate.

Penfold? Refshauge?

krats 10:09 am 27 May 10

What about a virtual Prison,Hell that would save some money.And a virtual Riot could be stopped with a click of a mouse.

dtc 10:08 am 27 May 10

NSW has the common law and the equity supreme courts . . . (ok, so they are the same court).

I think the OP is a bit misguided – no competent Blackburn chambers barrister wants to become a judge – then they have to spend their days listening to all the not so competent barristers, for less money than they currently earn, and they can’t do long Friday lunches at various Civic venues. Hence most of our recent judges coming from interstate.

Heavs 8:54 am 27 May 10

^^^
What? How many Supreme Courts does NSW have praytell.

cleo 11:26 pm 26 May 10

Well they need to do something, Canberra is growing and there has been serious crimes committed here, Canberra has only one supreme court, where as NSW has more many more.

Gerry-Built 2:10 pm 26 May 10

…they could just post charges and evidence here, and go with the majority vote…

I’m sure Johnboy would set it up and run it for substantially less than $275,000 pa

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