The West

Top judge: court delays to worsen
Clogged court: Chief Justice Wayne Martin. Picture: Matt Jelonek/The West Australian

WA's Supreme Court is set to become even more clogged up and delayed, with Chief Justice Wayne Martin revealing successive State governments have failed to invest in any new resources for the State's highest judiciary in the past eight years.

He said he was still waiting word from the Government, but feared bad news on the continuing hope for more resources.

Attorney-General Michael Mischin has angered the judiciary by refusing to replace Supreme Court judge Narelle Johnson, who retired in 2012.

And in a weekend speech to a conference of the Australasian Institute of Judicial Administration, Justice Martin said that meant the Supreme Court had fewer resources than in 2006, despite more than 454,000 people moving to WA since then.

"Although I am awaiting a definitive statement from government on the subject, it seems likely judicial numbers will be reduced to levels below that which prevailed eight years ago," Justice Martin said.

"Taking into account population growth, expansion in specific areas of jurisdiction, particularly criminal jurisdiction, and the significant increase in commercial activity in Western Australia . . . the failure to maintain appropriate levels of judicial resources will inevitably have an adverse effect on timelines."

An unprecedented influx of murder cases in coming months, after six suspicious deaths in the space of six days last year, has prompted prosecutors and judges to publicly air frustrations in court and forensic officers to admit their resources are stretched.

Justice Martin said the situation of growing delays for court cases was likely to get worse.

"Perhaps the best that can be hoped for is that we can continue to find efficiencies and processes which will mitigate the (situation)," he said.

Lawyer Tom Percy warned last week that the $15 million Federal Budget cut for Legal Aid would also slow the judicial process, as fewer lawyers tried to deal with more cases.

The West Australian

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