Tamworth and Armidale District Courts to get two new judges after Judge Jeffery McLennan leaves New England | The Northern Daily Leader

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TAMWORTH and Armidale have lost their sole permanent district court judge, after he took on a position on the North Coast. Judge Jeffery McLennan won’t be returning to the New England benches this year, and instead will preside in Lismore. Now, two judges will share the workload. The district court has told the Leader Judge Deborah Payne “will exclusively sit in Tamworth” and Judge Warwick Hunt “will exclusively sit in Armidale”. Judge McLennan had been based here for two-and-a-half years. READ ALSO: In local legal circles, he’s been credited with streamlining the criminal court lists and sittings, and driving down the backlog of trials. He was installed in the position in mid-2017, after a Judges for the Bush campaign, spearheaded by the Leader and Northern Tablelands MP Adam Marshall. Mr Marshall said he’d already spoken with the Attorney-General, Mark Speakman, and had been assured the judge would be permanently replaced. “I did not want to the lose the position after the tough battle to secure the judge here in the first place,” he told the Leader. “The whole reason we led the campaign for a permanent judge was to ensure that justice was fast and fair for all involved. “For too long we had an insufficient fly-in, fly-out justice model in our region, and it clearly showed it didn’t work. “There were considerable delays for accused persons, for victims and for witnesses, and that causes undue stress – and, put simply, it’s not good enough.” Dates for criminal trials blew out to almost two years before Judge McLennan was parachuted into the position. A NSW District Court spokesperson said: “The arrangement for 2020 is that Tamworth and Armidale will each have dedicated judges sitting in the District Court. The court has been concerned that the caseload in Tamworth and Armidale is too much for a single judge. “The court is closely monitoring the first available trial date in both courts and will provide additional sitting weeks if required. “It is likely that the same judge would then be available for these weeks.” Want more crime and court stories? Support the local news that keeps you informed – subscribe today



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