SA AG rejects inquiry: says ‘handled case-by-case’

The South Australian Attorney-General and Deputy Premier, Vickie Chapman, has rejected CLA’s call for a full inquiry into about 400 criminal cases in the state over about 40 years that were corrupted by malfunctioning forensic science organisation and by the concomitant errors of police, prosecutors and the judicial system. Any issue would be handed on a “case-by-case” basis, she said. However, the problem in SA was systemic and deeply entrenched: it colours how justice operates in SA to this day because key actors of yesteryear have risen to prominent positions now.

Justice dies a ‘Death on the Derwent’

A former Tasmanian, and noted crime author, Robin Bowles brings a unique perspective to her skilfully crafted, disturbing and compelling new book on the Sue Neill-Fraser case. The third book on the wrongful conviction released in just six months, Bowles brings a different insight to the sorry saga, which is still being played out in the Tasmanian courts 10 years after Bob Chappell disappeared off a yacht, his body never found. All actors in this drama await judge Michael Brett’s imminent decision on whether the woman sentenced to 23 years jail will get another chance to appeal her innocence.

Tas AG rejects inquiry…instantly

“Our polite request to Attorney-General Elise Archer for the Tas Govt to consider holding a Royal Commission in 2020 or 2021 has been met with an emphatic ‘NO’ in record time, and on a long weekend,” CLA President Dr Kristine Klugman said. “You would think the government would be a little more circumspect, and wait until after legal cases had concluded to respond, as we suggested.

“Throughout Australia, governments unthinkingly backing their police and state legal systems have come completely unstuck over the past decade or so, and many Ministers have egg on their faces. I’m reminded of South Australian AG Michael Atkinson who for years repeatedly, inside and outside parliament, said the Henry Keogh conviction for murder was rock solid, safe, and a fine example of SA police, forensic and prosecution work. Keogh’s conviction was not long ago overturned by the SA Supreme Court after 19 years. SA has just paid Keogh $2.5m compensation.”

Does perverted justice prevail in Australia’s deep south?

Witness coercion. Unjustified secret surveillance. Proven incompetence. Corruption by confirmation bias, Standover tactics. Bending laws to their own ends… and that’s just the local police! ‘Southern Justice’, a new book by Colin McLaren, exposes and details how justice has gone rogue in Tasmania, where 60-something grandmother Sue Neill-Fraser languishes in her 10th year in Risdon jail, of 23 to serve, for a crime she didn’t commit. It’s a cracking read! Review by CEO CLA Bill Rowlings.

Call for Royal Commission into Tassie legal/justice system

The Sue Neill- Fraser case, now 10 years old, is becoming Australia’s new ‘Dingo Took My Baby’ saga. Tasmania has jailed a woman for 23 years after her husband went missing from a yacht on Australia Day night in trendy Sandy Bay. No body, no witnesses, no believable motive and a trial skewed by a major Crown blunder not corrected before the jury made its wrongful judgement. Tasmania desperately needs a Royal Commission into its legal/justice system. In this Australia Day letter, CLA invites Attorney-General Elise Archer to announce one.

Law reform AG asked to hold Royal Commission

The fairness and quality/integrity of the legal/justice system in South Australia remains questionable following the Henry Keogh case. The State of SA has compensated Keogh $2.5m for his wrongful murder conviction and 19 innocent years in jail. However, forensic and other legal errors around the Keogh case may have been duplicated in 400 other major SA trials over the past 50 years. CLA has  – again,  we also asked in 2016 – asked SA Attorney-General Vickie Chapman to call a Royal Commission to clear the air: she personally and the Liberal State Government have committed to law reform as part of their platform in winning government.

Want to know about pill testing at music festivals?

Here’s a detailed, sober assessment of the issues around pill testing at music and dance festivals, written by a group who have lost children to drug-taking. Unfortunately, its opening lines – written on 12 Jan 2019 – are out of date: there’s been another music festival death since then. Police put their trust in sniffer dogs (accuracy rate, about 27%, a NSW Ombudsman study shows), and politicians promote prohibition. With teens and twenties, who come alive to to the beat of music, that works about as well as telling young people not to experiment with sex.

Dutton devalues sex register by false, overblown claims

Minister Peter Dutton is devaluing a most important and needed public debate, apparently for political purposes, about preventing child sex abuse. “The way he has gone about what amounts to a sham consultation is a very clear indication that he and the government are much more concerned about the upcoming federal election than bringing in better and effective protection for children than exists now,” CLA CEO Bill Rowlings says. “From the outset of this media silly season thought bubble, Minister Dutton has made outrageous claims, quoted inappropriate sources and combined figures for categories of offences in a way that would see him charged with fraud if he were to do something similar in a commercial prospectus.” There is no evidence to support Mr Dutton’s claims that a sex register would work, he said.

Suppressed! Your right to know    

A noted person was apparently convicted of historic sex crimes in Victoria in December 2018 – but Australians can only find out about the conviction by reading overseas media outlets. In Australia, news of all details of the case is ’suppressed’ by the judge. That is, no-one anywhere in Australia is permitted to report what international outlets say was a unanimous finding by a jury that a person was guilty. The person is to be sentenced in February, but is currently on bail despite being convicted of offences against children, which usually involves residential restrictions. Court suppression orders in Australia, like defamation laws, need a thorough overhaul.

Electing to study how good/bad law is made

One problem with law-and-order politicians is that their efforts inevitably lead to more prisons, more prisoners and more taxes paid by the very people who voted for them. It’s a bit like a two-card trick: vote for me and I’ll take more money from you. But laws are derived from all sorts of community inputs – as well as glib pollticians – and a new academic team across universities is studying how we get both good laws and bad laws.