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Early guilty pleas help reduce stress for victims and witnesses

Published: 11 January 2018

A program aimed at cutting the District Court backlog is delivering faster outcomes for cases.


A new “case management” approach trialled at the NSW District Criminal Court has led to a drop in the average time taken to reach a guilty plea, to list matters for trial and to finalise matters.

The Rolling List Court has been operating in Sydney’s Downing Centre for almost three years.

The Rolling List Court assigns a crown prosecutor and senior defence lawyer to a case earlier to ensure charges are appropriate and to narrow the trial issues in dispute. The same judge presides throughout the proceedings.

A review of the program has found that in the last three years:

  • guilty pleas have been entered in almost three quarters of Rolling List Court matters (compared with 58 per cent of comparable District Court cases)
  • guilty pleas were entered on almost 70 days quicker than in cases not on the rolling list
  • rolling list cases proceeded from committal to trial sooner than other District Court cases
  • rolling list cases took less time to progress from committal to finalisation.

NSW Attorney General Mark Speakman said the results of the Rolling List Court showed what could be achieved with earlier and better management of cases by prosecution and defence agencies.

“Guilty pleas are being entered sooner and in greater numbers, while cases are proceeding to trial faster, reducing stress and uncertainty for victims, witnesses and defendants,” Mr Speakman said.


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