Courthouse bears fierce storm’s force

Courthouse bears fierce storm’s force

Macarthur Law Society president Brett McGrath is concerned the transfer of court cases from storm damaged Picton Courthouse to Moss Vale Courthouse is detrimental to defendants, victims and practitioners.

Mr McGrath, on behalf of the society, has officially requested the Chief Magistrate reconsider the decision to move appearances to Moss Vale in favour of the unused Camden courthouse.

The lawyer believes Camden is the more logical place to rehouse court sitting dates.

“Sittings at Camden were moved to Picton a few years ago because Picton was close to Camden,” Mr McGrath said. “Why does the same reasoning not apply now in reverse?”

The recent flooding and wild weather in Picton significantly damaged the courthouse and a representative of the Department of Justice said the building suffered “extensive flooding” during the storm, with floor coverings, electrical systems, IT systems and air-conditioning facilities all destroyed, and much furniture extensively damaged. The court will be closed for up to six months.

In a letter to the Chief Magistrate, Mr McGrath listed his concerns regarding the move to Moss Vale.

He said the majority of appearances in Picton Local Court came from the Camden area and while the distance via car to Moss Vale from Picton is 58 kilometres, it is 77 kilometres from Camden.

He also said the average time it would take someone travelling to court through public transport from the centre of Picton to Moss Vale would be almost two hours, and more than two and a half from Camden. The distance between Picton and Camden, however, is only 34 kilometres.

Mr McGrath said his fellow legal professionals “hold grave concerns” for victims of domestic and family violence “in circumstances where alleged perpetrators may also be reliant on the same minimal public transport options” to attend court.

He is also concerned that the difficulty in travelling to Moss Vale, rather than the more convenient Camden, would increase the number of failed court appearances and overload the system in the District Court.