We’re receiving quite a few phone calls, naturally so, over this coronavirus period from members of the public and our own client base asking us and wondering what’s happening in court with their matters. We’ve had some very clear directions from the chief judge of the Supreme Court, and the chief judge of the district court, and the chief magistrate of the magistrate’s court. And it goes like this. If you’ve got a hearing in the magistrate’s court, those hearings will proceed. The reason for that is that at the hearing, there’ll be the prosecutor, defence counsel, and the magistrate, and the judicial support officer, and really that’s it in the courtroom, so we can maintain social distancing. Members of the public generally will not be allowed in there including supporters of accused persons and victims. If you’ve got sentencing in the magistrate’s court, the sentencing will also proceed. Again, it’s in front of a magistrate, and you won’t have the requirement and the necessity to have multiples of people in there.
When you get to the district court, things change. If you’ve got a trial in the district court, I can tell you now that all trials between now and July, all trials have been cancelled. They’ve been sent to what they call a trial list hearing where the lawyers will be appearing by telephone or video. The accused, yourself, will be in the court itself, and we’ll have our doors open to workout when we can list another trial. If you’ve got sentencing in the district court, that will be proceeding because that’s before a judge only.
Again, lawyers may not be present. The reason for that is that while you may have one or two appearances in court over a period of one month, two months, three months, lawyers are there every day, which means our risk of contamination, of infection, is much higher than yours. So, we’ve been given permission by the court or leave of the court to appear by telephone. I trust that clears things up for you. Please keep in contact with your lawyer. Or, phone this office to get any more clarification of the points that I’ve made.