NSW Attorney-General Gabrielle Upton has announced that 11 new magistrates will join the bench of the NSW Local Court, in a move that will see the largest appointment of new magistrates in decades.
Seven of the 11 new magistrates specialise in criminal law and four specialise in civil law. They are Imad Abdul-Karim, Rodney Brender, George Breton, Kathy Crittenden, Cate Follent, James Gibson, Susan Horan, Jennifer Price, Julie Soars, Brett Thomas and Julia Virgo.
Ms Upton noted that the 11 new magistrates are made up of six women and five men, with combined legal experience of almost 250 years.
“I congratulate all the appointees, who will make an enormous contribution to justice in the Local Court, which is the engine room of our justice system,” Ms Upton said.
“The appointments also bring NSW another step closer to gender equality on the Local Court bench, with women now accounting for 62 of the state’s 140 magistrates.”
The appointments followed the Productivity Commission’s latest report on government services. According to the report, the Local Court has had the lowest backlog of any comparable jurisdiction in Australia for more than a decade.
NSW Local Court Chief Magistrate, Judge Graeme Henson, said the appointment of the additional magistrates was “critical”.
“When matters are dealt with efficiently, it reduces stress and uncertainty for victims and defendants and allows witnesses to give evidence while the incident is still fresh in their minds,” Judge Henson said.
The 11 new magistrates will be sworn in at a series of ceremonies in the first quarter of 2017.