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‘The court has been crashed’: Retiring magistrate and former Chief Magistrate say the legal system is struggling

One of the state’s most senior magistrates says Victorian magistrates courts are poorly resourced and struggling to cope with workloads.

Magistrate Charlie Rosencwajg has slammed the justice system in the Herald Sun today, as he retires after 15 years in the job.

Mr Rosencwajg hit out at under-resourcing, lack of experienced lawyers and increasing workloads, saying Victorians are being let down by the legal system.

Nick Papas QC, former Chief Magistrate of Victoria, said he agrees to an extent.

“Charlie identifies everything you could possibly imagine as a problem: inexperienced practitioners, inexperienced magistrates, excessive work, changes in legislation,” he told 3AW’s Ross and John.

“All of those things, to a degree, are issues.”

But Mr Papas said he thinks the growing workload is the number one problem in Victorian magistrates courts.

“The reality is that the court here has been crashed,” he said.

“Every time there’s a societal problem, let’s pass a new law, let’s make something illegal.”

Mr Papas said it’s not as simple as hiring more magistrates to cope with the growing workload.

“There’s not enough rooms, there’s not enough experienced practitioners according to Charlie,” he said.

But the former chief magistrate was skeptical about Mr Rosencwajg’s criticism of magistrates as too inexperienced.

“I’d be concerned if that’s right,” he said.

“The risk is that if you haven’t done a lot of court work then becoming a magistrate is a very difficult thing to do.

“It’s very stressful and very hard. It doesn’t matter how long you’ve been a lawyer.”

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Image (at top): Anadolu Agency