Editorial: Court update a win for Albury
CASES will no longer need to be delayed or aborted in Albury due to a lack of audio-visual links in the city’s District Court room.
Member for Albury Greg Aplin has convinced NSW Attorney-General Greg Smith of the need to have the video link technology which allows witnesses to testify to hearings from remote locations.
The room used for Local Court hearings has had a video link set-up since 2007 and previously District Court matters requiring audio-visual use had to be switched to the other court which caused disruption and frustration.
The Border Mail highlighted the problem in February when a District Court rape trial had to be aborted after concerns about the ability of a complainant to give evidence via video link.
The judge hearing the case, Paul Lakatos, told the jury the court was supposed to have first-world technology.
“This trial has now been aborted through a number of deficiencies in the audio visual technology and the like,” Judge Lakatos said.
Mr Aplin was initially rebuffed before learning last week that he had succeeded.
“The original response from the government was that the District Court could swap cases between courtrooms if they wanted,” Mr Aplin said.
“I really wasn’t happy with that and I went back to him and tried again and managed to get it and now it has been installed.
“While the cost of the actual equipment is relatively small, I think the cost in saving time and energy, as well as the emotional costs for those involved, is immense,” Mr Aplin said.
The designated District Court room is also occasionally used for Local Court hearings and that has also resulted in problems when there is demand for magistrates in each sitting to access audio-visual equipment.
Such a situation occurred in June when a visiting magistrate from Sydney was hearing children’s court care proceedings in the District Court room and needed to swap to the Local Court room for a video hook-up.
However, magistrate Megan Greenwood already had a sentencing matter in a fraud case which involved a link to Junee jail.