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03 Dec 2021

Full-time Judge needed for 'six months solid' to get through backlog of over 40 Longford trials

Full-time Judge needed for 'six months solid' to get through backlog of over 40 Longford trials

It will take "six months solid" to get through the backlog of trials listed for Longford Circuit Court, Judge Keenan Johnson has said.

Judge Johnson has been very vocal regarding the number of people opting for jury trials in Longford.

He previously made it clear that "Covid credit" would be available to those who entered a guilty plea and saved the state the cost and time it would take to hold a jury trial.

Despite that, there were over 40 trials, ranging from two days to two weeks in length, listed for mention this morning at Mullingar courthouse, where Longford Circuit Court sittings are taking place due to Covid-19 restrictions.

"We anticipate we'll be back in Longford for trials in January," Judge Johnson told the court this morning.

Also listed for the January sittings are 11 hearings and two Newton hearings.

"Regarding trials, the president can't give me any indication of when a judge will be available to hear these cases," said Judge Johnson.

"I would estimate it will take 27 to 28 weeks to deal with all the trials mentioned this morning. That would need a full-time judge for a year or at least six months solid. The situation is crucial.

"We're in serious difficulty with human rights if we don't get these trials up and running. And Longford is not unique. This is an issue across the board. They're having the same problem in Portlaoise, in Mullingar, in Tullamore and, to a lesser degree, in Roscommon and Sligo.

"The situation is critical."

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