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Post-committal directions hearings
The Criminal Trial Listing Directorate manages all criminal matters that are committed to the Supreme Court for trial or plea. Once an accused has been committed to trial in the Supreme Court, a Post-Committal Directions Hearing (PCDH) is held within 24 hours of the completion of the committal hearing. The PCDH is listed at 9.30 am the following morning or the afternoon of the same day of the committal. Counsel retained for the committal will be required to appear at the PCDH. If the committal has been conducted in a Magistrates’ Court outside the Melbourne metropolitan area, the PCDH may occur within five days of the completion of the committal hearing.
These hearings seek to identify issues, strengths and weaknesses of the respective cases early on. A timetable is then set for the filing of the prosecution opening, defence response and evidentiary notices as required under the Evidence Act 2008 (Vic) and the Jury Directions Act 2013 (Vic).
The trial date is then fixed, which gives the parties a chance to focus on their preparation, engage counsel and canvass the possible resolution of evidentiary issues and, indeed, the ultimate plea. Should a plea of guilty be indicated at that time, an arraignment may take place, and a date will then be fixed for the plea hearing.
Post-Committal Directions hearings are generally conducted by the Principal Judge, with the trial judge conducting a final mention of the case in the week or so before the trial date. The process brings an accused person before the Court in a timely manner and the judge is kept apprised of the progress or otherwise of the case until the date of trial or plea, thereby reducing delays and unnecessary adjournments.
For more information, please refer to Practice Note SC CR 1 Case Management Procedure for Criminal Trials