Bid to lighten load on local courts

By ERWIN CHLANDA

 

A measure to lighten the load on the courts of summary jurisdiction will be proposed to the NT Cabinet by Attorney-General and Minister for Justice, John Elferink (pictured).
He says if the measure becomes law, in the event of a not guilty plea both parties will be obliged to have a pre-trial conference in a bid “to sort it out”.
He says at present it’s not unusual for a defence lawyer to arrive at court with a bundle of briefs under his arm
Having only minutes to familiarise himself with each case he has little option but to enter not guilty pleas on behalf of his clients.
“There may be contentious issues,” says Mr Elferink. “For example, the person charged may claim he wasn’t at the crime scene.
“If the prosecution can prove he was, then the accused may well enter a guilty plea.
“On the hand, if the prosecution can’t provide proof, it may well drop the charge.”
Mr Elferink says similar pre-conference requirements exist in Queensland and Victoria where the number of hearings dropped from 7000 to 3000 a year, “with huge savings to the public purse.
“The local court has been very much the bump and grind, the sausage factory of our legal system.
“This should become a thing of the past.
“At this stage I’m looking at models elsewhere and will be putting a submission to Cabinet.”

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  1. Alice Gap
    Posted April 10, 2013 at 8:44 pm

    “This should become a thing of the past.” Too right it should. Who is calling the defence lawyers him? Minister for Justice, John Elferink or Erwin Chlanda? Most of them are women if it’s the Minister for Justice using such language – that’s abysmal.
    [ED – The Alice Springs News Online humbly stands corrected. It should be his/her in each case.]

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