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Attorney-General Jarrod Bleijie puts money ahead of justice

Money is apparently more important than justice
would seem to be the view of Queensland's
 new Attorney-General Jarrod Bleijie

The State Government will consider calls for a new Supreme Court judge to tackle a backlog in criminal cases but flagged it may not be able to afford one.

Attorney-General and Minister for Justice Jarrod Bleijie said he would "look seriously" at the number of matters before the courts, along with clearance rates.

Mr Bleijie confirmed Chief Justice Paul de Jersey had advised him of the need for an additional trial judge in Brisbane, taking the total to 16.

He said "careful consideration" would be given to the request but said another appointment carrying a $350,000-plus remuneration package might be a stretch for a Government working to rein in $85 billion in debt.

Those who stand accused, such as alleged killer Gerard Baden-Clay, face more than two years in custody before a trial.

Chief Justice de Jersey said the number of murder, attempted murder or manslaughter trials had doubled in five years.

A legal source said the need was clearly there for another appointment but the Government's purse strings were tight so it would be an "interesting contest".

He said Supreme Court judges, in the main, came from the bar, picked from the ranks of Queen's Counsel and Senior Counsel.

"The appointment would be one made on the recommendation of the Attorney-General, who would advise Cabinet."

A leading criminal lawyer said Queensland's justice system had become a "talkfest" thanks to reforms introduced by the former Bligh Government.

Chris Nyst said the so-called Moynihan reforms had led to "serious delays" in court cases.

The reforms, drawn up by former Supreme Court judge and Crime and Misconduct Commission boss Martin Moynihan and introduced in 2010, were meant to streamline the justice system.

But Mr Nyst said the reforms were "an unmitigated disaster" and should be wound back.

"Criminal cases are now being bogged down in a quagmire of 'case conferencing' in the magistrates court," he said.


16.6.12