Open justice continues to be respected throughout the coronavirus pandemic, a parliamentary committee has heard.
The Parliamentary Standing Committee on Subordinate Legislation, made up of members of the upper and lower houses, met on Friday to scrutinise the operations of the Supreme and Magistrates Courts during COVID-19.
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Determinations were made by the Chief Justice on April 17 and the Chief Magistrate on April 23 approving alternative ways to hold court proceedings during the pandemic.
Supreme Court registrar Jim Connolly said the modified proceedings were actually working quite well.
He said the Supreme Courts across the state were being used as hubs, remaining open to the public and the media, with other parties such as judges, solicitors, prosecutors, prisoners and remandees accessing the court remotely through audio or video conferencing.
"There is still an element of open justice that is being respected, even in these strange times," Mr Connolly said.
"We are intending to revert back to traditional models for conducting justice in Tasmania as soon as that's possible.
"We may carry forward some modified practices that involve, for example, more use of desktop video conferencing when that's appropriate."
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Mr Connolly said since March 23 the criminal jurisdiction the Supreme Court had heard 87 bail applications, 30 sentencing matters, 32 proceedings involving plea mitigation, 246 directions hearings and 79 mentions but he could not at this time provide comparative data for these matters from before the COVID-19 restrictions.
"Of course, jury trials are going to be another issue we have to deal with and we are aiming for late July to resume that," Mr Connolly said.
He said extra resources may be needed when jury trials resume to deal with the backlog but noted a seventh judge was due to join the court in the 2021-22 financial year and there were three acting justices who could provide assistance.
Magistrates Court administrator Penelope Ikedife said matters in that court could be heard by audio or audio visual link such as on video conferencing platform Zoom.
"This hasn't been used to a huge extent because generally speaking the court has still been open so media may still attend if they wish to do so," Ms Ikedife said.
"The exception to that has been the Burnie registry which for 13 days was closed to the public due to additional restrictions [in that region]."
Ms Ikedife said there had been no requests by the media to attend criminal matters via Zoom but some had requested to attend case management conferences in the coronial division.
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