Tasmania is moving to introduce judge-only criminal trials due to a backlog of court cases and coronavirus restrictions.
Attorney-General Elise Archer revealed on Tuesday the Liberal state government is drafting legislation to allow for the option of Supreme Court trials to be held without a jury.
Judge-only trials exist in New South Wales, Queensland, South Australia, Western Australia and the Northern Territory and ACT.
“Judge-alone criminal trials provide an alternative to jury trials and may assist in helping to reduce court backlogs,” Ms Archer said in a statement.
“They can also allow for better access to justice while taking into account physical distancing requirements as a result of COVID-19.”
Ms Archer said defendants or the prosecution may be allowed to apply for a judge-only trial or a judge may make an order for one if it is in “the interests of justice”.
The state government will conduct further public consultation before the end of the year.
There was broad support among state legal groups for the reform, Ms Archer said.