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CJB184

Author Don Weatherburn and Jacqueline Fitzgerald
Published August 2015
Report Type Crime and Justice Bulletin No. 184
Subject Court processes and delay; Sentencing
Keywords trial court delay, backlog, case processing, efficiency, guilty plea, District Criminal Court Figure

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Summary

Aim

To describe the growth in trial court delay in the NSW District Criminal Court and the factors affecting it.

Method

Descriptive analysis of court data.

Results

Where the accused is on bail, the average time between committal for trial and case finalisation in the NSW District Criminal Court has grown by 34 per cent since 2007. Where the accused is in custody, the average time between committal for trial and case finalisation has grown by 44 per cent. The principal causes of the growth in delay are:

(1) a growth in persons arrested for serious (strictly indictable) offences,
(2) an increase in the proportion of cases registered for trial that are actually proceeding to trial and
(3) a growth in trial duration.

Conclusion

Action needs to be taken to reduce court delay in the NSW District Criminal Court and to improve the indicators of trial case processing. Measures that expand the Court’s capacity or improve its efficiency will have a more immediate (though not necessarily larger) effect than measures that reduce demand for trial court time.

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