In a criminal case of aggravated assault on a woman, it took almost a year after the charge was filed for the district court to convene the main hearing. However, the hearing was cancelled and the processing time was approaching two years when the case was settled. In the decision, the Parliamentary Ombudsman found that the district court had not taken sufficient action to ensure that the case was settled within a reasonable time, pointing out – for example – that several offences were already old when the charges were brought. The Parliamentary Ombudsman criticises the district court for its handling of the case.
In another criminal case, which involved unlawful driving, the defendant was 17 years old when the charge was brought. Because the defendant was so young, the case had to be handled promptly under Section 29 of the Young Offenders (Special Provisions) Act (1964:167), but it took four months for the district court to hand down a judgment. Although the Parliamentary Ombudsman is of the opinion that it is debatable whether the time taken is in compliance with the requirement for promptness, she does not find grounds for criticism in this case.
In the decision, the Parliamentary Ombudsman makes statements on the division of responsibility for criminal cases and on the importance of clear and written procedures for scheduling. According to her, a court may need to consider matters such as whether there are particular factors which make a particular case a priority, such as the nature of the crime or whether most of the evidence consists of verbal information. The court must also note whether previous main hearings have been cancelled and the reason for this. The Parliamentary Ombudsman also points out that the requirement for promptness in cases involving juveniles makes it particularly imperative for the court to immediately reschedule such a case after a hearing has been cancelled, and for the procedures to include specific instructions on how cases involving young offenders should be handled; how quickly the court should convene a main hearing, for example.
Finally, the Parliamentary Ombudsman makes certain statements on the scheduling of criminal cases during a pandemic.