The state government is progressing legislation for judge-only court trials to be permitted in Tasmania.
Under a bill tabled in Parliament this week, any party to a court proceeding can apply for an order for a trial by only a judge within three months of the date an accused person was committed to stand for trial.
This also requires the consent of the accused.
There have been no limits placed on the type of crimes that can be heard by a judge without a jury, but will not be available to an accused person on a Commonwealth indictment.
This is because it would be unconstitutional to do so.
An application will be granted if the court is satisfied that the application was made in the interests of justice and if the accused person understand the nature and implications of the order.
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The person must have either received or refused legal advice on those implications for the approval of an application. South Australia was the first Australian jurisdiction to introduce judge-only trials in 1984.
These trials have since been introduced in NSW, the ACT, Western Australia, and in Queensland in 2008.
Victoria has allowed for trial by judge alone as a temporary measure during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Tasmanian Bar Association president Sandra Taglier earlier this year said the bill was overall supported, but contained some problematic areas.
She said the bill did not expressly provide the court to make its own motion with respect to a judge-only trial.
Ms Taglier said the bill did not state whether the judge that granted an application for a judge-only trial would be the same judge to preside over that trial.
The bar associated successfully argued that the time frame for an application for a judge-only trial should be extended from two months as proposed in the draft bill.
Queensland and Victoria do not specify a timeframe other than requiring the application to be made before trial.
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