Mag­is­trate adds more work­load

Pilbara News - - News - Tay­lar Amonini

The Pil­bara’s le­gal sched­ule is about to have a shake-up as the South Hed­land mag­is­trate takes on the du­ties of one of the Kar­ratha fly-in, fly-out mag­is­trates.

From Jan­uary the South Hed­land mag­is­trate will re­place a week of her South Hed­land cir­cuit time with a week on the Kar­ratha cir­cuit, tak­ing the place of one of the cur­rent FIFO mag­is­trates.

De­spite a his­tory of mag­is­trates be­ing over­worked in the Pil­bara, a spokes­woman at the Depart­ment of At­tor­ney Gen­eral said Mag­is­trate Michelle Ri­d­ley felt she had the ca­pac­ity to in­clude the Kar­ratha cir­cuit.

“The cur­rent list­ing in­ter­val at South Hed­land is 12 weeks and 15 weeks in Kar­ratha, which are both be­low the stan­dard 19 weeks,” she said

In the 2016-17 fi­nan­cial year, South Hed­land Mag­is­trate’s Court had 2683 cases while Kar­ratha Mag­is­trate’s Court had 2788, both an in­crease in cases on the pre­vi­ous fi­nan­cial year.

Port Hed­land’s lead­ing lawyer Richard Whitwell also re­flected the con­fi­dence, say­ing the or­gan­i­sa­tion and co-op­er­a­tion of the mag­is­trates’ team in South Hed­land was ex­em­plary.

“Not to say past mag­is­trates weren’t up to the job but this cur­rent team just has a very good sense of com­mu­ni­ca­tion and I think (the mag­is­trate) is more than ca­pa­ble of tak­ing on the two cir­cuits suc­cess­fully,” he said.

“In this dig­i­tal world, she also has the abil­ity to see peo­ple through video calls, so if an emer­gency hap­pens when she is in a dif­fer­ent town there is still that abil­ity to do her job.”

De­spite in­creased case loads in both towns, Le­gal Aid re­gions di­rec­tor Lex Payne re­flected Ms Ri­d­ley’s con­fi­dence, say­ing he was not wor­ried about a re­peat of a mag­is­trates over­load his­tory.

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