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Acurate information. Hooray for the Canberra judiciary!

By Smithers - 23 April 2011 47

Over the past year or so it has been hard to miss on Rio-act the very cynical view that a collection of contributors on here seem to have with regard to the ACT criminal justice system.

I only caved and felt the need to write in about it because I am shocked that there are still so many who take the media seriously. Jesus I would bet some have even made financial decisions based on the shite they dish up.

It seems though there are some out there who actually believe that not only are the ACT courts somehow failing to operate as they should. But yet even more astoundingly, there is a fanciful idea that they are controlled by judicially corrupt officials who are being accused of being apparently ‘soft on crime’. This has also been followed with a theory that any ex defense lawyer who becomes admitted to the bar naturally would have to favor the defense. This alone just highlights how much or little is known about how our system even works. And I hasten to add, it doesn’t work at all if both sides aren’t represented equally.

It seems there is a good number of people on here with this view and even some who appear to be working in law enforcement, though by nature they aren’t typically fans of the system. And understandably so. Courts can be very confronting and frustrating places.

Made me think a bit about my views on it. I even thought maybe I don’t get it. Am I out touch with the real world? Entirely possible and for most other areas concerned, yes. I am out of touch with the real world that is why I have no influence or agency and don’t get laid nearly as often as I would like. Is it really a travesty in the halls of the criminal courts of Canberra? Really? Maybe, if you read the Canberra times or any other court reporter’s genius insights, you could be forgiven for thinking the justice system is nonsensical and killers are let off all the time and sent home with gift vouchers to Coles Myer. There in lies the real problem. People are not getting the accurate information that they deserve and have a right to. Mind you it is combined with a willingness to make assumptions and jump to conclusions using only the information they have received via mass media. I can certainly understand that this might pose the question of where does one go when you need the facts? The courts would be a good place to start.

I think it can be dangerous when plying people with information to do with serious crimes, as it perpetuates a needless anxiety within the community. So I went looking for something that might be of a resource to the hang them high mob of the Riotact. It just so happens that the Australian Institute of Criminology website has everything you could ever want on the matter. Mostly it is all there in black and white about the public’s perception on crime. But I hit the jack pot as there has just recently been a study completed on judges accuracy in sentencing. Wouldn’t you know it : “Study of jurors shows judges get it right on criminal sentencing”

I highly recommend reading it. Fascinating.


FROM THE AIC website.

“The public’s perceptions of crime and of criminal justice can have an important influence on policy decisions relating to operational activity in front line law enforcement and in judicial sentencing. However, there can be and indeed often is, a discrepancy between the public’s perception of the likelihood of crime victimization and the actual risk of victimization. This discrepancy is apparent in the public’s concern regarding a perceived increase in crime amidst declining crime rates”

The public lacks knowledge of sentencing practice and
those most dissatisfied with the criminal justice system are those whose perceptions are
particularly inaccurate. Improving access to information about sentencing and the principals would advance the overall understanding of criminal justice and maybe even curb that needless fear of crime.

Regurgitating media stories is not a substitute for the facts of a case. In fact it is possible that you have been fed a pile of rubbish just to see if you would swallow it.

Our role as members of the community with a conscience on criminal justice is to to think critically and independently, to be reasonable.

What’s Your opinion?

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47 Responses to
Acurate information. Hooray for the Canberra judiciary!
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buzz819 said :

After seeing how many people re-offend while on bail, you can say that locking them WILL stop them re-offending.

Don’t suppose you know the percentage of people who reoffend while on bail?

EvanJames 9:38 am 27 Apr 11

Special G said :

You mention Justice Higgins is a judge genius – if he can sleep through a trial and still make a judgement then I guess he must be. Would hate to miss that crucial piece of evidence.

I imagine the judge is such a genius, he writes his judgements before the trial commences, and then can use the down-time in the courtroom for other things, like sleeping.

Special G 8:26 am 27 Apr 11

First thing – what’s with the name change.

If you sit through enough court you’ll find recidivist offenders will reoffend any time they are not in jail. This is why they keep going back there.

You mention Justice Higgins is a judge genius – if he can sleep through a trial and still make a judgement then I guess he must be. Would hate to miss that crucial piece of evidence.

Lookout Smithers 9:31 pm 26 Apr 11

Mystery2Me said :

Not said :

While I am happy to admit being naive, i probably would use a more fitting term. Naivety relates to uniformed or unaware. I have some info on the matter.

However, your information comes from a newspaper article, a professor sitting in a musty room writing a report or a whole bunch of statistics that could be manipulated or interpreted to suit anyone’s opinion. My information comes from first hand experience. Apologies for calling you naive. I thought naive meant a lack of EXPERIENCE, wisdom or judgement. You clearly have wisdom, albeit someone else’s.

Nothing has been taken from any news paper in what I wrote. I referenced where I got it from? Did you not read the link? And I said, I have been to court as defendant and witness before in big and small cases. I wouldn’t comment if I hadn’t ever been to court.

Lookout Smithers 8:08 pm 26 Apr 11

EvanJames said :

Not said :

Yes absolutely, out of everything you could attack, you choose grammar!! Says so much in so little. And he is Chief Justice, namely a Judge genius. You use your finger for all your brainstorms.

I can see why you would find criticism of poor written expression upsetting.

Ur a funny guy.

Mystery2Me 6:52 pm 26 Apr 11

PJCanberra said :

Have to agree! Just like the violent detainees we seem intent on assisting, our criminals are just another few looking for a free ride! I know of one or two individuals who continually stuff up and get caught but get a slap on the wrist and are sent out into society only to re-offend! How is anyone going to learn if the only punishment they receive is a day in court and maybe a monetary fine???

Eventually those days in court lead to days in gaol. It might take time, but eventually it will happen. If someone is continually “stuffing up” by committing petty crimes, then naturally they will not be sentenced to a custodial sentence. However, I once knew someone who went to gaol for six months for stealing 5 bananas. Seems petty and stupid, however, it was their 31st conviction for shoplifting, so 6 months was probably a good result. I also knew someone who stole $250 worth of stuff from dick smith and got 12 months, that was their third offence…

I have no idea what my point is other than to say there is no rhyme or reason to the criminal justice “system”. It does what it can when presented with “evidence” from both the prosecution / police and the defendant.

Mystery2Me 6:41 pm 26 Apr 11

I’ve just read the OP again, without the influence of Boag’s, and I think what Lookout Smithers is getting at is that we (being the general population) are fed all this crap from the media about crime and the punishment of criminals without actually knowing the true “facts” of each individual case.

Is ….Smithers suggesting that along with an article in the Canberra Times about the punishment handed down to someone for a particular crime, the C.T. should also publish the Court Transcripts so as to:
a. Present a complete and accurate picture of the Court’s reasons behind their decisions, and
b. To allay those misconceptions created by the media that a particular crime is more prevaeant and therefore deserves a certain type of punishment in order to deter it.

Well, that just doesn’t sell newspapers does it????

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