A six-week murder trial scheduled to start in late July may be postponed until 2020.
Kylie Jane Hack is jointly charged with Gary Matthews in relation to the alleged murder of Kingston woman Michelle Meades, whose body was found in a burnt out unit in Clarendon Vale in September 2016.
Ms Hack has been in custody since 2016 and Mr Matthews has been on bail.
On Friday, the court heard a Crown application to delay the scheduled start date of July 29 to allow for the collection of additional expert evidence.
Ms Hack's defence lawyer Greg Melick did not object to pushing back the trial but said it was "highly undesirable" due to Ms Hack's lengthy jail stay, stating she wanted the matter to go to trial as soon as possible.
"She's now been in custody two years and 10 months," Mr Melick said.
Justice Helen Wood said the possibility of the trial adjourning to next year was concerning to the court.
"I'm concerned enough about mid-October, to be frank," Justice Wood said.
Mr Melick said the defence needed more information regarding how the only witness against Ms Hack would give evidence in the trial, particularly seeking to know if he would refuse to answer questions.
"Without his evidence, we don't see how the trial will go ahead," Mr Melick said.
Mr Melick said he also needed to gather prison records and other documents to support his argument about the admissibility of video evidence given by Ms Hack at a time he alleges she was hallucinating, and therefore providing several versions of events.
Justice Wood said the court would need to adjourn to reflect on possible options that would minimise the delay, with a further directions hearing scheduled for Wednesday next week to confirm if the trial will be moved.
"We may need to give consideration to departing from the general practice," Justice Wood said.
Ms Wood suggested the possibility that she continues to hear the trial's preliminary matters and another judge would take over for the trial later this year at a time where she was unavailable.
Court at full capacity
In his 2017-18 annual report, Chief Justice Alan Blow said the issues of a substantial backlog of pending criminal cases and an increased quantity of appeals and bail applications had worsened.
Cases pending longer than 12 months increased from 130 at the end of 2016-17 to 185 as of June 30, 2018, the report said.
Law Society of Tasmania president Evan Hughes said there was a continuing concern about the significant backlog of criminal matters in the court.
"That's not because of a lack of will and effort of the people involved, it's purely because of the sheer volume of work that's coming through," Mr Hughes said.
"Those delays of a year, 18 months are unfortunately not uncommon."
Mr Hughes said when cases were delayed it diminishes the evidence involved and put greater stress on the people involved.
"The longer a case runs before it gets heard - the evidence gets diluted over time because it comes from people," Mr Hughes said.
"It affects the quality of the justice system the more it is delayed."
Mr Hughes said other reasons for delay included the admission of extra evidence, complicated forensics or surveillance evidence which needs to be analysed and reviewed.
The state government has acknowledged Tasmania's backlog issues and have invested an additional $14.4 million in courts and legal services in the 2019-20 budget, including $1.1 million per year for the reinstatement of a seventh Supreme Court judge and $5 million for a new Southern Magistrate.
The Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions will also receive increased funding of $700,000 a year from the 2020 - 21 budget to assist judicial services.
Mr Hughes said the reinstatement of a seventh judge would certainly help, however, more could be done to address the backlog.
"That's making some decisions about what things we deal with in the Supreme Court," Mr Hughes said.
"The Law Society has been advocating strongly for matters that do not need to go to the Supreme Court to be brought back and dealt with by a Magistrate."
Innocent until proven guilty
Tasmanian Prisoners Legal Service chair Greg Barns said it was intolerable for people to be remanded for lengthy periods of time whilst waiting for trial.
"No one should have to wait really more than three to six months for their trial to come on," Mr Barns said.
"We need to remember that people who are kept waiting for their trial or appearance have the presumption of innocence."
Mr Barns said prisoners on remand suffer a number of adverse impacts during this time, including facing difficulties accessing prison programs.
"The stress that people are placed under by virtue of the slow wheels of justice is quite damaging both to them and to their families," Mr Barns said.
Mr Barns said there should be the capacity to provide compensation to people who have been remanded and then acquitted.
"If a person, for example, is acquitted after they've waited three years for their trial - they've spent three years of their life being detained and losing their liberty for no purpose," Mr Barns said.
"People are just told to move on with their lives.
"They've had the guts ripped out of their life. It's not just a matter of slotting back into their lives."