​New trial management strategy generates earlier guilty pleas

Full report - The NSW Rolling List Court Evaluation: Preliminary Report (pdf, 434Kb)

Release date: Tuesday 18 October, 2016

 

A new trial case management strategy has resulted in a 20 percentage point increase in the percentage of guilty pleas in the NSW District Court.

The Rolling List Court (RLC) was introduced on a trial basis on 13th of April last year in a bid to reduce congestion in the NSW District Criminal Court [1].

The usual trial processing arrangement involves no dedicated judge and only limited contact between prosecution and defence.

The RLC involves a dedicated judge (Judge McClintock) and two prosecution and defence teams; each with a Crown Prosecutor, Public Defender, Legal Aid solicitor and DPP solicitor.

While one team is in court running a trial or sentence hearing, the other team prepares future matters.

By the end of July 2016 a significantly higher proportion of matters balloted to the RLC had been finalised compared with matters dealt with in the general court list (65% vs. 37%).

Further, a higher proportion of matters dealt with by the RLC resulted in a guilty plea than matters dealt with by the control courts (63% vs. 41%).

A guilty plea was entered within 3 months of ballot for nearly one in five (18%) of all the RLC matters. This compares with just 5% of matters dealt with in the control courts. 

Commenting on the findings, the Director of the Bureau, Dr Don Weatherburn, said that the RLC had so far produced some spectacular improvements in criminal case processing in the NSW District Criminal Court.

“Everyone talks about the benefits that flow from early consultation between defence and prosecution to ensure appropriate charges and to narrow down the issues in dispute. This is the first time I’ve actually seen an initiative which produced that outcome.”

Further enquiries: Dr Don Weatherburn 02 8346 1100
Copies of the report: www.bocsar.nsw.gov.au

________________

[1] In August last year, a study released by the NSW Bureau of Crime Statistics and Research (BOCSAR) revealed that between 2007 and 2014 the average time between committal for trial and case finalisation in the NSW District Criminal Court for accused persons on bail had grown by 34%. Where the accused was in custody, the average time between committal for trial and case finalisation had grown by 44%.