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Only In the ACT Supreme Court

By vg - 23 April 2005 19

The ubiquitous CT website hasn’t mentioned it, and I can’t find it on the ABC news one either (but I’m sure someone will provide a link) but the ACT Supreme Court, and one justice in particular has done it again.

You all may recall the killing of a man in a caravan park quite a few months ago. In February, before the ACT Supreme Court, the offender pleaded guilty to Manslaughter. The facts were accepted and the offender remanded for sentence yesterday, Friday.

Upon returning to the court yesterday the learned different judge (hazard a quick guess who) decided that the facts did not substantiate Manslaughter. The prosecution and defence then went away for a pow-wow and came back with an amended set of facts that both parties agreed to, and maintained the guilty plea. The judge then rejected this 2nd set of agreed facts and guilty plea and now the offender is free on bail and is more than likely now to be subjected to a full trial.

Please explain to me how a prosecution and defence can agree on such a plea twice, and their extensive legal minds agree twice on what is or isnt manslaughter (a killing the crook admitted doing!) yet once again the 2nd defence counsel, the ACT Supreme Court, steps in to throw another spanner in the works. Lets not forget that the offender’s legal representatives by this stage had agreed twice to plead guilty to manslaughter.

Whilst all may say that it is the job to the judge to do this picture this scenario. There is now a full trial, but instead of manslaughter he is charged and convicted of murder (in front of another different judge). He will be going to the big house for a lot longer than if he pleaded guilty to manslaughter.

Justice at its poorest, a person can’t even plead guilty when they want to.

(Personal, not professional opinion)

What’s Your opinion?


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19 Responses to
Only In the ACT Supreme Court
Thumper 8:12 am 19 May 05

VG,

that thought kind of instantly popped into my head as well….

vg 5:59 pm 18 May 05

Geez…..you wouldn’t be Jennifer Saunders would you? I see both sides every day. If he is such a saint why, at various stages, has he been the most overturned judge in Australia?

Jennifer 2:42 pm 18 May 05

VG – you just wouldn’t happen to be a member of the AFP would you? I am a defence barrister but I also do prosecution work in Melbourne and here, too recently and you really have to see cases on both sides to understand what problems each side faces. The tradition of truly independent barristers in Britain (and Vic) is fabulous – you become very even handed. And I don’t care what you say – the CJ is a saint.

Chris 3:05 pm 29 Apr 05

It is not only in the ACT Supremem Court that justice is not served – I have been handed down (as a property owner renting a room to a student) a really over the top penalty for not registering a one week bond ($120) with the tribunal. The student (who was not a good tenant- let’s leave it at that) promptly went to the Rent Tribunal, and the case was heard by a Member, who also happens to be on the teaching staff of UC Law.
Is this usual practice ? I’m aware law lecturers get paid for various apearances at conferences, etc. but is this now the case in the ACT, that academics double as members of the judiciary ? Can anyone better informed please enlighten me – oh, I believe the harsh penalty was party because (unwisely, in hindsight, mentioned that one of the coppers who had attended to my complaint had indicated that students caused the police more and more grief as time went on…. Any thoughts, people ?

LurkerGal 3:37 pm 28 Apr 05

You are prolly right there.

vg 3:10 pm 28 Apr 05

OK, I’ll wear the lawyers bit, but I have a feeling it wasnt an official change, rather inherited from the USA by our increasingly litigious society

LurkerGal 12:54 pm 28 Apr 05

AFP! Sorry, not ADF.

LurkerGal 12:53 pm 28 Apr 05

VG: Any other eggs they can teach you to suck? Sorry, her post just made me laugh. If you didn’t know the difference between murder and manslaughter I would fear for the ADF considerably!

One thing though, they are called Lawyers here too, especially if they are a Barrister AND Solicitor. (LG, who only knows because her mother was a solicitor and is now a Lawyer) (Who’d have thought she’d come in handy for something????)

vg 12:46 pm 28 Apr 05

Thank you Jennifer for explaining what I already know. Suffice to say that I am well across the subject. Defence solicitors (as they are called in Australia) aren’t ‘always’ looking for NG pleas but in my vast experience in the Mag and Sup courts they will and regularly do raise the most ridiculous defences that wastes the courts time.

Assiduously? So at least 5 different barristers (3 DPP and 2 defence) have agreed twice to the facts but somehow the CJ finds that little extra. Have a look at the man’s track record and see how many patently ridiculous decisions he has made that have been overturned (the overturning often being unreported). He is not unbiased, to say the least. Many people need not employ defence counsel, the CJ will do it for them for free

(Personal, not professional opinion)

Jennifer 12:38 pm 28 Apr 05

It isn’t as simple as all that. Murder requires the crown to prove the accused intended to cause death or was “recklessly indifferent” to causing death. Manslaughter is more complicated because there are various categories and defences available. For example, where self defence is claimed but the force used was excessive, provocation as a defence, diminished responsibility. There is also “involuntary manslaughter”. You are wrong to think defence lawyers are always looking for a plea of not guilty. Most accused want to plead guilty from the start and some lawyers encourage that, even if the charge is defendable.We should all be grateful the Chief Justice does his job as assiduously as he does.

johnboy 1:48 pm 25 Apr 05

Ah, well i’m glad we’ve cleared that up then

vg 1:47 pm 25 Apr 05

I dont think you’ll find that was the case. A defence would look for every reason for a not guilty plea, even at the manslaughter level. The judge isnt inferring the facts point to murder either, he’s saying there isnt enough for manslaughter, despite one of his brethren agreeing previously, as well as both the prosecution and the defence twice

johnboy 11:37 am 24 Apr 05

I don’t know all the details but surely if the prosecution was being a bit lazy in the case then the defence would most certainly agree with them?

The definitions of manslaughter and murder are different and if the agreed facts point to murder then hasn’t the judge done the right thing by knocking down this cozy deal?

Shaun 5:19 am 24 Apr 05

And then get found not guilty of murder by presenting the same facts that found him able to plead guilty of manslaughter. And walk free.

andy 6:07 pm 23 Apr 05

plead not guilty at the murder trial, draw it out, and cost the government lots of money. all the time continuing to draw reference to the above mtnioned facts

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