Court to live-stream case for the first time

At last, courts in Australia are starting to embrace the IT technology that can open up the mysteries of the law to the average person. The WA Supreme Court is leading the way by live-streaming  a case involving bushfires from 16 July 2018 at 10am. Pity the innovative WA Chief Justice, Wayne Martin, will retire from the bench while the live-streaming experiment continues.

The law defeats justice – again – in Australia’s deep south

The Supreme Court of Tasmania has ruled then-lawyer Barbara Etter should have surrendered a raft of unfiltered documents when the Legal Profession Board of Tasmania re-ignited a quenched complaint against her on the say-so of a disgruntled opponent. Etter has quit the law as a result. The LPB administers unconscionable, kangaroo-court type laws that can deprive somebody of the right to practise, earn income and advise clients – while effectively destroying their reputation – without any chance to put their side of the case before the members of the LPB.

Collaery/K: Behaviour of Libs and Labs is appalling

Rob Wesley-Smith reading his own ASIO files at the National Archives in Canberra in December 2012.

Rob Wesley-Smith (RWS) knows the Timor Leste (East Timor) government as well as any Australian. He is personal friends with current and former Presidents and Prime Ministers of that country. He was recently awarded that nation’s highest honour, the Order of Timor Leste. He says the Australian government’s spying behaviour was unconscionable, and the current charges against lawyer Bernard Collaery and Witness K are appalling.

Australians with consciences who care about our democracy are beginning to speak out against this travesty of justice. “The Wilkie statement is now two days old: not a word from the government, the ALP, the ABC, today’s Fin Review. Is everybody running scared?” asks a former Labor MP. A major protest is being planned for the first mention of the charges in the ACT Magistrates Court on 25 July 2018. If you care about the rule of law in Australia, and stopping the process under way of Australia becoming a police state, please follow this story, and take action.

Chief Justice criticises law-and-order election auctions

Real justice – as opposed to expensive, unproductive ‘law and order’ auctions around election times – helps the victims heal as well as punishing the perpetrators, says WA Chief Justice Wayne Martin. He gives examples of progressive justice systems being introduced throughout Australia, many of them learning from the practices that imbued Aboriginal culture over tens of decades of history in Australia. Read his Sir Ninian Stephen 2018 lecture.

‘Lawful but awful’ policing is problem here too

A new book that outlines the problems of policing in America over the past two decades has widespread lessons for Australia also. While Australian police don’t kill around 1000 citizens a year, the tunnel vision and confirmation bias attitudes, coupled with the propensity to lie because of twisted mateship, are exactly mirrored in Australia. As are problems stemming from excessive powers and secret linkages between federal police and  security bodies and state police.

Another price to be paid for police tunnel vision?

A B Greer is out of jail after 25 years, but there is more doubt now than there has ever been about whether he should ever have been in jail. His conviction occurred during the peak period of WA police bastardry, a time which has generated many cases of wrongful convictions. WA’s two most senior criminal barristers, Percy and McCusker, both believe in his innocence. A miscarriage of justice in which the wrong person is convicted is as much a tragedy for the victim’s family as it is for the family of the wrongfully convicted person.

Dead man phone-fingered for his private secrets

Police in Florida USA have crept in to a funeral home to enlist the help of a corpse they created to unlock the man’s mobile phone. Avoiding the man’s fiancee, who was at the funeral home at the time, they have tried to use the dead man’s fingers to gain access to information. So far, the phone has stayed mute. Meanwhile investigations continue over how fellow police came to shoot the man dead in the first place, over the ‘crime’ of having illegal tinted windows on his car.

Model Litigant Obligations: government’s reputation is ‘rancid’, CLA says

CLA’s submission on a Model Litigant Obligations Bill, proposed by Senator David Leyonhjelm, has at last been published on the website of the Senate committee inquiring into the proposed new law. CLA says the Attorney-General’s Department does not abide by existing law because it fails to actively police, enforce and even simply report annually as it is required by legislation to do on how well, or otherwise, the government is acting as a model litigant. CLA tells the committee the Australian government’s reputation in this area is “rancid”. CLA submission is here: CLA’s and other submissions are here

A law unto themselves, absent model principles

Bill Rowlings* questions how ‘professional’ is the Legal Profession Board of Tasmania. It’s a quango that only recently worked out it needs to abide by model litigant principles, a decade after it was created. And it seems to particularly dislike the right of people to question, scrutinise and dissent.

It is a body which annually seeks funding approval from the Attorney-General and reports formally to the AG each year, making it a quango despite its claims of “independence”. It has 10 statutory functions. Handling complaints is the third listed, but seems to dominate its activities overwhelmingly. Educating the public is one of its activities which appears to have received a very much lower priority.

Govt right to proceed cautiously with bail reforms

By Dr Karen Gelb

In the aftermath of Melbourne’s Bourke St tragedy, in which a driver ran amok in the CBD in January 2017, the Victorian Government announced changes to the state’s bail system along with a two-stage major review of Victoria’s bail laws.

The first tranche of reforms is due to begin on 1 July this year, with the second set of amendments still to be debated in the upper house of Parliament.

Opposition Leader Matthew Guy has continued to chastise Daniel Andrews for delaying commencement of the bail reforms, calling instead for them to begin at the end of March.