Increasingly, in criminal trials throughout Australia, the failure to disclose (FTD) critical information to the defence appears to be skewing trials towards wrongful conviction outcomes. The problem is not new – the cases of Mallard, Keogh and Eastman over two decades demonstrate that fact – but what was an occasional blight seems to be becoming a plague of considerable proportions. Here’s the story, plus a special report on the Rules of Disclosure by legal academic Dr Bob Moles.
A former Tasmanian prosecutor, Tony Jacobs, with 30 years experience which includes 30 murder trials, has written an explosive letter – beginning with the famous phrase ‘J’Accuse, quoting Emile Zola in 1898 – to the state’s Law Society claiming that “Mrs (Sue) Neill-Fraser’s conviction for murder should have been overturned because of the mistakes & omissions of a number of Tasmanian Legal Practitioners”. Jacobs’ letter was tabled in the Legislative Council of the Tasmanian Parliament on Tuesday 15 November 2022 by Michael Gaffney MLC. Here’s the tabling speech from a Hansard proof copy, .and you can read the tabled the letter.
CLA’s submission to the National Anti-Corruption Commission parliamentary inquiry placed the NACC in context – along with a much-needed, federal Human Rights Act to follow – as delivering a better, fairer and more equal ethical infrastructure for Australia. When CLA appeared before the NACC inquiry committee, it was unfortunately more intent on parsing clauses from a legal perspective than discussing the best national philosophy for Australia. (Note: the committee asked for submissions to be kept as short as possible).
Recent revelations of secret recordings of lawyers and their clients at Risdon Prison by Tasmanian Police over two months raised major alarm bells. The Commonwealth Ombudsman has been consistently calling out TasPol for its recording devices and surveillance warrant failures for years. TasPol's “compliance culture” is lacking, the Ombudsman says. In other words, TasPol does not obey the law. SPECIAL ANALYSIS reveals how extensive the TasPol problem is: nothing less than a full inquiry into TasPol will get to the root causes of its problems.
Police can self-authorise some warrants, or get a magistrate or judge to issue others. But whatever method is mandated, warrants are frequently incorrectly issued in Australia on false, dodgy or incomplete information containing wrong details and not meeting legal requirements, or by unauthorised people. The Commonwealth monitors warrant processes, and its Ombudsman has singled out one state in particular, Tasmania, for compliance and culture criticism over the past few years
What was so secret about the Bernard Collaery and Witness K case? It couldn’t have been the bugging of the East Timorese Cabinet rooms, as that was well known. Perhaps it was deeper and longer-term spying on who the East Timorese leaders were planning to throw their lot in with, over suspicions of Chinese influence of concern to Australia 20 years ago, Dr Richie Gun surmises.
Horrific stories of kids locked up 23 hours a day forming suicide pacts, regular riots and a juvenile jail smashed to pieces are the backdrop for an urgent need to change tack on how the state of WA treats its young, and old, prisoners. Australia needs an inquiry – one it has never had in its 120 years – into the state of justice in the nation, CLA’s CEO Bill Rowlings writes.