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28 May 2022

Longford's courts system heading into 'perfect storm' as Covid crisis intensifies

Judge Keenan Johnson

Judge Keenan Johnson

A judge has told of how Longford's judicial system is heading into 'the perfect storm' as the continuing surge in Covid-19 cases gathers pace.

Judge Keenan Johnson delivered the warning on the first day of an expected four week session of Longford Circuit Criminal Court this morning.

A 36-page court list was handed out to barristers and legal practitioners at the start of proceedings, prompting Judge Johnson to express his own fears about the increasing backlog in cases owing to Covid-19. 

No trials are due to get underway during the first week with a review scheduled to take place on January 19.

Judge Johnson said he would "not be at all confident about any trials taking place in these sessions," saying "additional credit" would be applied to any guilty pleas which were preferred by defendants in a bid to clear lengthening case numbers.

"There are a huge number of cases to be heard," he said.

"There are no additional judges, there is a shortage of venues that are Covid compliant. It's a perfect storm and is a totally unsatisfactory situation."

Judge Johnson said due to the dilemma facing anticipated criminal trials, the court now had "increased capacity" to deal with historic civil and family law cases over the course of the next four weeks.

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