find the latest legal job
Corporate/Commercial Lawyers (2-5 years PAE)
Category: Corporate and Commercial Law | Location: Adelaide SA 5000
· Specialist commercial law firm · Long-term career progression
View details
Graduate Lawyer / Up to 1.5 yr PAE Lawyer
Category: Personal Injury Law | Location: Brisbane CBD & Inner Suburbs Brisbane QLD
· Mentoring Opportunity in Regional QLD · Personal Injury Law
View details
Corporate and Commercial Partner
Category: Corporate and Commercial Law | Location: Adelaide SA 5000
· Full time · Join a leading Adelaide commercial law firm
View details
In-house Legal Counsel & Commercial Lawyers
Category: Corporate and Commercial Law | Location: All Sydney NSW
· Providing lawyers with flexibility and control over when they work, how they work and who they work for.
View details
In-house Legal Counsel & Commercial Lawyers
Category: Corporate and Commercial Law | Location: All Melbourne VIC
· Providing lawyers with flexibility and control over when they work, how they work and who they work for.
View details
Juryless murder trial is ‘offensive’

Juryless murder trial is ‘offensive’

Allowing a judge to preside without a jury in the murder trial of Perth barrister Lloyd Rayney has been described as “offensive” by a legal academic.

The high-profile trial, which began yesterday (16 July) in the Perth supreme court, has attracted fierce media attention. But the decision to conduct a juryless trial in an attempt to guarantee impartiality was “surprising and disturbing” to Hugh Selby, an associate professor specialising in advocacy and court craft at Australian National University.

He told Lawyers Weekly that it is likely the defence or prosecution argued that Rayney’s case has attracted so much media coverage in WA that neither party can be assured that all members of a jury would be free of media influence.

“This argument is offensive ... the idea that jurors are necessarily so biased that they can’t reach a fair decision is insulting,” he said.

“I can’t see why 12 WA citizens should be denied the right to decide whether the accused is guilty or not.”

Rayney was arrested and charged for murdering his wife Corryn in December 2010, more than three years after her body was found in Kings Park, Perth.

The 44-year-old mother of two was a registrar at the WA Supreme Court at the time of her death.

Given the Rayneys were well-known members of Perth’s legal community, the judge and prosecution were flown to Perth from interstate to ensure a fair trial, without prejudice to any party, an arrangement that is expected to cost the state government $3 million, according to the Courier Mail.

Brian Martin, former chief justice of the Northern Territory Supreme Court, is presiding over the trial without a jury.

Selby pointed out that bringing in “out-of-town” judges is common when legal professionals are being prosecuted. The appointment of Chief Justice Martin in the Rayney case was most likely a “preventative measure” to avoid accusations that members of Perth’s legal community acted with a preconceived view for or against the accused, he added.

“This prevents anyone from alleging that the trial was in some way unfair ... it avoids suggestion the judge was influenced in any way by prior knowledge of the accused or his deceased wife.”

Bringing in prosecutor John Agius QC from New South Wales is also understandable in this case as the accused is a former prosecutor, Selby continued. “It forestalls any suggestion that the prosecution is soft,” he claimed.

Rayney was working as a barrister at the time of his arrest and has been involved in a string of high-profile cases during his legal career. This includes representing a senior police officer at Corruption and Crime Commission hearings into the wrongful conviction of Andrew Mallard, who was falsely convicted of the murder of Pamela Lawrence in 1994.

He made headlines in 2002 for suing well-known art critic Robert Hughes, who was charged with dangerous driving after surviving a near-fatal car accident in WA in the 1990s. It was alleged that Hughes made a racist comment towards Yemen-born Rayney.

Like this story? Read more:

QLS condemns actions of disgraced lawyer as ‘stain on the profession’

NSW proposes big justice reforms to target risk of reoffending

The legal budget breakdown 2017

Juryless murder trial is ‘offensive’
lawyersweekly logo
Promoted content
Recommended by Spike Native Network
more from lawyers weekly
Papua New Guinea flag
World-first mining case launched in PNG
Citizens of Papua New Guinea have launched landmark legal proceedings against the country’s govern...
Punishing offenders twice pointless, politicians warned
The president of the Law Society of NSW has warned legislators from other states about adopting cont...
Dec 13 2017
Young humanitarian lawyer California-bound
A young Australian lawyer will be travelling to the US next year for a prestigious nine-month study ...
Allens managing partner Richard Spurio, image courtesy Allens' website
Jun 21 2017
Promo season at Allens
A group of lawyers at Allens have received promotions across its PNG and Australian offices. ...
May 11 2017
Partner exits for in-house role
A Victorian lawyer has left the partnership of a national firm to start a new gig with state governm...
Esteban Gomez
May 11 2017
National firm recruits ‘major asset’
A national law firm has announced it has appointed a new corporate partner who brings over 15 years'...
Nicole Rich
May 16 2017
Access to justice for young transgender Australians
Reform is looming for the process that young transgender Australians and their families must current...
Geoff Roberson
May 11 2017
The lighter side of the law: when law and comedy collide
On the face of it, there doesn’t seem to be much that is amusing about the law, writes Geoff Rober...
May 10 2017
Advocate’s immunity – without fear or without favour but not both
On 29 March 2017, the High Court handed down its decision in David Kendirjian v Eugene Lepore & ...