Closed court sessions due to virus

THE Maryborough Courthouse cut a different figure on Tuesday, as the coronavirus pandemic tightened its grip on what we consider normal life.

Most mornings at the courthouse are a hive of activity.

People normally arrive at the Richmond St facility from about 8.30am for various appearances.

Solicitors and police prosecutors can usually be seen wheeling case dockets into Courtroom One.

The Justice Department emphasised Queensland courts would remain open and hear cases – but the manner in which they are doing so has been turned upside down.

Magistrate Terry Duroux and his Hervey Bay colleague Stephen Guttridge would normally see hundreds of people through their courtroom doors every week.

But new directives from the Justice Department say there will be no physical appearances in any matter except for urgent non-police, private domestic violence matters and with special leave from the court.

Instead, matters will be conducted by telephone or video link, including by persons in custody.

All this to help prevent the spread of COVID-19.

Magistrates courts are continuing to hear overnight custody arrests as well as domestic violence, child protection and bail applications.

Sentences where the person is likely to be released from custody and committal and summary mentions where the defendant is in custody would also be heard.

All other matters currently listed before the court will be adjourned for no less than two months from the first appearance.

The department said details and the new date would be posted or emailed to defendants and their legal representatives.

Security guards were instructed to allow only one person at a time into the Maryborough registry.

Principal at Suthers George, Travis George said the move to introduce video link technology from the Maryborough watch house into the courthouse “was timely” under the current global health crisis.

He said his firm was also using electronic communication as much as possible when taking instructions from clients prior to court appearances.