For the first time in two decades, Katoomba's historic courthouse will get its own district court sittings.The court will start sitting from February 10 with trials and multiple other matters, including sentences and appeals, due to be heard.
District Court of NSW media spokeswomanChristine Gallaghersaid the decision was made to "reduce the pending trial case load in the region, specifically from the Penrith District Court, without impacting local court sittings at either Penrith or Katoomba".
District court sittings were held in the 1990s at Katoomba. The decision to stop sitting at Katoomba would have been made by the Chief Judge at the time and based on the needs of the court. It's not a permanent move, and will be assessed at the end of 2020.
"Katoomba has jury facilities which is why it is a suitable courthouse for District Court sittings. Katoomba is being added to the circuit in 2020 as a measure for reducing the pending case load with a view to seeing how that goes," Ms Gallagher said.
NSW Attorney General, Mark Speakman said: "The sittings will include trials where people from the Mountains and surrounding communities will serve as jurors, performing an important role in the delivery of justice."
"This will be the first time in more than 20 years the District Court has sat in the historic Katoomba Courthouse.
The arrangement will be a circuit sitting for 16 weeks in 2020 (eight weeks in each law term) and judges will be rostered from Sydney.
District court sits full time in two Sydney CBD locations (44 courtrooms), as well as Parramatta (eight courtrooms), Penrith (two courtrooms) and Campbelltown (three courtrooms).
In addition, resident judges presided at Armidale, Dubbo, Gosford, Lismore, Newcastle, Tamworth, Wagga Wagga and Wollongong. Other places where the district court sat in 2018 were: Albury, Bathurst, Bega, Bourke, Broken Hill, Coffs Harbour, Coonamble, Goulburn, Grafton, Griffith, Moree, Nowra, Orange, Parkes, Port Macquarie, Queanbeyan, and Taree.
At the end of September 2019 the case load (trials not finalised) was 1,481 trials down from 1,831 at the end of 2018.
Last year the Online Court started with the plan to minimise the cost and inconvenience of in-person court appearances by enabling the parties to make online requests without the need to attend court. It is mostly used for civil matters for case management purposes and to avoid multiple brief appearances in court.