7 May 2023

Public scrutiny of decisions is welcome, chief justice says ahead of Law Week events

| Albert McKnight
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Chief Justice Lucy McCallum

The ACT’s Chief Justice Lucy McCallum says the court welcomes public scrutiny. Photo: Albert McKnight.

Speaking ahead of the events planned for Law Week 2023, the ACT’s chief justice has welcomed public scrutiny of court decisions and encouraged members of the community to attend the courthouse.

The ACT Courts and Tribunal will host events to promote further understanding of the law, the courts and their roles in society on 11 May, including running a role-play exercise called ‘You be the judge for the day’ to simulate a sentencing hearing for the public.

In the lead-up to the events, Chief Justice Lucy McCallum said, “The court welcomes public scrutiny of its decisions”.

“Transparency and accountability in the exercise of judicial power are central attributes of the rule of law,” she said.

“For that reason, the business of the court is conducted only in open court. It necessarily follows that the court cannot discuss individual cases outside that forum.”

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She said members of the public can always attend court or inform themselves about the court’s work in other ways.

For instance, Supreme Court decisions are published on online and can be found on the court website.

“By reading a decision in full, members of the public can acquire a complete understanding of the facts of the case and the principles of law the court is required to apply,” Chief Justice McCallum said.

She said when it came to sentencing, the court was developing a protocol to allow its decisions to be broadcast via the media.

“There is also a significant amount of research-based information about sentencing which is available to be read by those interested,” she said.

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The ACT Justice and Community Safety Directorate said the Law Week events will be held on 11 May at the ACT Law Courts Building on Knowles Place, Civic.

An expo will be held in the courthouse’s foyer while there will also be education tours of courtrooms from 2 pm to 4:30 pm.

Also, in an event titled ‘You be the judge for the day’, simulated sentencing hearings hosted by Chief Justice McCallum and Acting Chief Magistrate Robert Cook will be held from 4:30 pm to 6:30 pm in Supreme Court Room 3.

“All members of the public are welcome to attend,” the chief justice said.

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