Australia: Covid-19 Forces Justice Overhaul In Victoria Including Judge Only Trials

Lawyers Weekly Australia reports…..

Judge-only trials will be allowed in Victoria during the coronavirus crisis if the defendant and prosecution agree, under temporary laws to be introduced into State Parliament today.

Magistrates also will be given the power to impose electronic monitoring conditions on offenders who are on community correction orders. Currently, that power resides only with higher courts.

“It’s very important that we try to keep the wheels of justice turning,” Attorney-General Jill Hennessy said.

“It’s about making sure that the courts, the corrections system and other parts of the legal system are able to work as much as they possibly can.”

Major changes to the justice system include judge-only trials if both the defendant and prosecution agree, bringing the state temporarily into line with the ACT, NSW, South Australia, Queensland and Western Australia.

Magistrates will be able to impose electronic monitoring conditions for community correction orders, which can currently only be done by higher courts.

These add to other major changes to the justice system due to the pandemic, with bail reporting conditions suspended for all Victorians accused of crimes.

That decision is expected to affect about 3,000 people currently on bail and who, on average, make 10,000 visits to police stations every week.

“Everything has to change,” Premier Daniel Andrews said. “That’s just the nature of these things.”

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