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ACT prosecutors revolting

By johnboy - 28 July 2008 17

The ABC reports that 23% of the ACT’s prosecutors have quit and will be finishing up in October.

This in turn will see flow-ons as the remaining prosecutors get more work dumped in their laps.

The position of Director of Public Prosecutions remains vacant, as it has been since the previous incumbent Richard Refshauge ascended to the Supreme Court bench in December last year.

What’s a government to do?

What’s Your opinion?


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ACT prosecutors revolting
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VicePope 12:06 pm 29 Jul 08

Ps – the idea of payment on results is (in my view) terrible. There’s a whole lot of reasons prosecutions fail or fall over, and some of them are not capable of being affected by the prosecutor. Plus, it would create an artificial incentive to prosecute easy matters, rather than those that needed to be run. And that would leave the paid staff who would be left to run the hard, tedious stufff even more demoralised.

VicePope 12:02 pm 29 Jul 08

Using external practitioners is not the worst idea around, provided their independence from anyone except the DPP could be sewn up. The Commonwealth may let some agencies do or arrange their own prosecutions.

I would have thought they’d brief out to the bar where necessary and financially possible – for example, in something requiring specialist skills. (In fact, page 48 of last Year’s Annual Report lists the external practitioners and the matters for which they were engaged).

As to the idea of RiotActers being used, I feel this would be the equivalent of sending an enthusiastic but thick Pomeranian out to beat up a Rottweiler. There’s a reason doing legal work requires a bit of study.

DJ 9:38 am 29 Jul 08

VYBerlinaV8_the_one_they_all_copy said :

Why don’t they outsource the prosecution function to private legal firms, with payment contingent on outcome? Yep, it’ll cost a bit, but I bet we’d see some results.

Are you a Kiwi? I understand that is how the system works in New Zuland with more serious cases being run by the silks…

vg 9:03 am 29 Jul 08

Imagine how he would have felt if he was the one who took the initial report of a crime at 3.30am, investigated and chased down the offenders, put them before the Court, prepared a full brief of evidence in an extraordinarily short space of time to suit the defence, subpoenaed all the witnesses and THEN handed the brief to a prosecutor who read it for 5 mins before losing in Court the next day or seeing a ridiculous sentence.

Imagine how demoralising that would be

Thumper 8:44 am 29 Jul 08

A colleague of mine was a prosecutor, and from all reports, a very good one.

However, he resigned, disillusioned at the sentences being handed out for what he considered were reasonably serious crimes.

He joined the RAAF.

caf 8:30 am 29 Jul 08

So you’d have lawyers on one side, only paid on a successful outcome. Lawyers on the other side, paid regardless. Both drawn from the same small community.

No prospect of corruption there at all!

iCanberran 11:52 pm 28 Jul 08

VYBerlinaV8_the_one_they_all_copy said :

Why don’t they outsource the prosecution function to private legal firms, with payment contingent on outcome? Yep, it’ll cost a bit, but I bet we’d see some results.

It’s where the public prosecutors end up going, it’d save them a step. Good thinking.

Granny 10:44 pm 28 Jul 08

People would shoot themselves rather than face trial.

; )

Whatsup 10:20 pm 28 Jul 08

I reckon a panel of RA regulars could prosecute anyone who has done anything, anytime !

Why don’t they outsource the prosecution function to private legal firms, with payment contingent on outcome? Yep, it’ll cost a bit, but I bet we’d see some results.

Granny 9:29 pm 28 Jul 08

Oh!

VicePope 7:04 pm 28 Jul 08

Granny – some contributors on this site. The Canberra Times letters. Local 2CN talkback. The Canberra Times editorials. The ACT Ombudsman’s Annual Report refers to three complaints in 2006-07. I can probably think of more.

Granny 6:35 pm 28 Jul 08

VicePope said :

What doesn’t help retention is ill-informed criticism of what the prosecutors have to do

Who is criticising what they have to do?

VicePope 6:30 pm 28 Jul 08

This is probably not a huge turnover and it’s something that happens in every workplace (government included) from time to time. What doesn’t help retention is ill-informed criticism of what the prosecutors have to do – and, no, I am not and have never been one.

They have to look at hard legal stuff like whether the facts claimed amount to an offence (and, if so, what offence), they have to deal with the horror of assessing the quality of evidence likely to be presented, they have to consider whether there is a worthwhile case to run and they have to consider whether there is a public interest in running a case (given things like the likely penalty and the availability of alternatives like civil action with a lower standard of proof). This is all highly expert/subjective and taxing work, and that’s before the thing gets to court when they have to deal with a variable amount of procedural sparring by defences challenging charges and evidence, and long before the substantive matter goes to a hearing.

Little wonder that some might find the quiet backwaters of criminal law policy, or the well-paid fussiness of commercial law more attractive. The pay isn’t great. The risk of being dumped on from the bench is always there, as is the wearying hysteria of those who can’t see that a guilty plea to a lesser offence or smaller selection of offences and a modest sentence is better than running everything and losing the lot. They have my sympathy.

Granny 5:24 pm 28 Jul 08

What’s the point in prosecuting if the sentencing sucks? Could be that job satisfaction and morale are a teensy bit lacking….

p1 4:54 pm 28 Jul 08

Perhaps a large cage dome with a Tina Turner esk dominatrix forcing disputes to be solved by a fight to the death?

iCanberran 4:47 pm 28 Jul 08

I say replace the courts and DPP with a coin or pair of dice. Swift justice. Strike fear into everyone.
Could even turn it into a reality TV show, Court TV. Get some revenue to fund the police better.

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