Further suspension of NSW District Court criminal proceedings where offender is not in custody

This morning the Chief Judge of the District Court announced that an and from 1 April 2020, the District Court of NSW will temporarily suspend New Judge alone trials, sentence hearings, Local Court Appeals, arraignments and readiness hearings, where the defendant is not in custody. This temporary suspension will be reviewed on 1 May 2020

Full details of the announcement are available here.

NSW Local Court abandons all listings in its civil jurisdiction at the Downing Centre, Sydney until 20 September 2020

The Chief Magistrate of the Local Court of NSW says it has become increasingly apparent that the capacity for Local Courts to continue to operate effectively across the breadth of their jurisdiction is being systematically compromised by progressive restrictions announced by governments. Having undertaken a review of the position in the civil jurisdiction at the Downing Centre, the Chief Magistrate has directed that all listed hearings between 30 March and 30 September 2020 are abandoned.

South Australia moves ahead on further COVID-19 restrictions

Overnight the South Australia Commissioner of Police made 5 new orders prohibiting various activities, an dintroducing some of the most restrivtive measures of any of the state and territories.

Most significantly is the ben on what is described as a “prohibited gathering”, namely a gathering of more than 10 person, or a gathering of 10 or less [sic] persons that does not comply with the “density requirement”, being the requirement that the total number of person present at a gathering does not exceed 1 person per 4 square metres. Unlike other jurisdictions, this includes residential premises, and there is no exclusion for person ordinarily resident there. It is not clear what is supposed to occur in resdential premises where more than 10 persons are ordinarily resident.

Furthermore, a perosn who is present at a gathering (whether or not a prohibited gathering” must use “best endeavours” to comply with the “social distancing principles”, which in turn require a person to attempt to maintain a distance of at least 1.5m form each other person present in the same place.

Public Health (COVID-19 Self-Isolation) Order 2020

The NSW Government has made the Public Health (COVID-19 Self-Isolation) Order 2020, which comes into effect on 26 March 2020.

This Ministerial direction provides that a person diagnosed with COVID-19 must immediately travel to a residence or place that has been determined to be suitable for the person to reside in, or to a hospital for assessment (and from there to a suitable place for the person to rised in). The person must reside there until medically cleared.

While residing at the residence or place under a direction under this Order, the diagnosed person must not leave the residence or place except for the purposes of obtaining medical care or medical supplies, or in any other emergency situation, or permit any other person to enter the residence or place unless that other person usually lives at the residence or place or the other person is also complying with a direction under this Order, or the entry is for medical or emergency purposes, or the entry is to a place (other than a residence) for the purpose of delivering food or essential items.

NSW Emergency Measures legislation has been assented to

The COVID-19 Legislation Amendment (Emergency Measures) Act 2020 No 1 was assented to today (25 March 2020). The Act amends numerous pieces of legislation. The amendments include:

Amendments to the Criminal Procedure Act 1986 to enable criminal trials to be conducted in an appropriate way during the COVID-19 pandemic, by enabling a witness in a trial to give evidence before the trial in a pre-recorded evidence hearing, the original evidence of a witness recorded in a trial to be used in a new trial, and a court to order a judge alone trial in certain circumstances.

Regulations may be made under various specified Acts in relation to altered arrangements for criminal trial, pre-trial procedures, apprehended violence order proceedings, bail and sentencing and matters relating to the administration of sentences, for the purposes of responding to the COVID-19 pandemic. Regulations may only be made if Parliament is not sitting (or is not likely to sit within 2 weeks) and the arrangements provided by the regulations are in accordance with advice of the Minister for Health and Medical Research or the Chief Health Officer. The regulations are repealed after 6 months, unless earlier repealed by Parliament.

The proposed amendments to the Criminal Procedure Act 1986 are repealed 6 months after they commence, unless the regulations prescribe a later date for the repeal, not being more than 12 months after the amendments commence.

Amendments are also made to a number of Acts relating to detention facilities, enabling the relevant authority to prohibit person from entering or visiting the facility if satisfied that it is reasonably necessary to protect the health of an inmate, any other person or the public from the public health risk posed by the COVID-19 pandemic. There are also powers given to grant parole to certain inmates if satisfied that releasing the inmate on parole is reasonably necessary because of the risk to public health or to the good order and security of correctional premises arising from the COVID-19 pandemic.

Amendments are made to provide that a police officer is an authorised officer under the Public Health Act 2010 for the purposes of requiring a person suspected of contravening a provision of the Act to provide the person’s name and address, and for the purposes of issuing penalty notices. If a police officer suspects on reasonable grounds that the person is contravening a public health order relating to the COVID-19 pandemic, they have a power of arrest authorising them to return a person to their home or place of residence, or the place specified in a public health order that the person has been ordered to reside.

The amendments enable a supermarket to open on Good Friday, Easter Sunday and Anzac Day in 2020, only if the supermarket is staffed only by persons who have freely elected to work on those days.