find the latest legal job
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
Legal Inhouse / Lawyer / Company Secretary
Category: Other | Location: Brisbane QLD 4000
· Fantastic Company · Potential to be Part Time / Flexible Work Pattern
View details
Part Time Risk & Compliance Officer
Category: Other | Location: Brisbane QLD 4000
· Brisbane City · Flexible Part Time Hours
View details
‘Sentence leniency’ claims just political spin: lawyers

‘Sentence leniency’ claims just political spin: lawyers

POLITICIANS HAVE been accusing magistrates of lenient sentencing for political point scoring purposes, a peak body representing lawyers in New South Wales said last week. Politicians including…

POLITICIANS HAVE been accusing magistrates of lenient sentencing for political point scoring purposes, a peak body representing lawyers in New South Wales said last week.

Politicians including NSW Opposition leader Peter Debnam and NSW Premier Morris Iemma last week claimed on national radio that magistrates are not imposing tough enough sentences to deter violent criminals. But the New South Wales Law Society rejected the assertions, arguing that they undermine the community’s confidence in the justice system.

Law Society president June McPhie stressed the importance of the independence of the judiciary, claiming that it must be consistent and remain unaffected by the views of both politicians and the public. “The integrity of the judiciary in the eyes of the community would be completely compromised if it were not seen to be independent of outside influences, including that of Government,” said McPhie.

She said that few appeals are lodged for so-called ‘soft’ sentences imposed by magistrates, and that politicians should consider this before they attack the legal profession.

“In 2005 approximately 300,000 criminal cases were settled by magistrates in New South Wales. The Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) questioned the leniency of the sentence in less that 1 per cent of these cases,” she said.

She argued that sentencing should be consistent, and that in cases where the prosecution does not agree with the sentence imposed, a leniency appeal should be considered.

“The appeal process has served our courts well for a very long time. It acts as a check and balance mechanism to ensure sentencing remains consistent and transparent at all times.”

She said politicians often publicly criticise magistrates and their sentencing decisions for political mileage.

But such criticism is harmful to the independence of the judiciary and can result in an erosion of public confidence in our justice system.

Earlier this month NSW’s Chief Magistrate Derek Price challenged police to “put up or shut up” over allegations that local courts are too lenient in sentencing, The Sydney Morning Herald reported.

Price said police had in many cases failed to lodge appeals but rather had turned to the media to run their grievances.

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

‘Sentence leniency’ claims just political spin: lawyers
lawyersweekly logo
Promoted content
Recommended by Spike Native Network
more from lawyers weekly
LCA welcomes religious freedom panel
06:04
LCA welcomes religious freedom panel
The Law Council of Australia says the establishment of a panel which will examine the human right to...
Law Society launched a new website, legal politics and lawmaking
06:00
Law Society launches project to engage young Aussies
The Law Society of NSW has launched a new website to engage young Australians in legal politics and ...
recognised for human rights work
06:00
LexisNexis executive recognised for human rights work
A LexisNexis executive has been announced as a finalist in a global awards program for women in busi...
APPOINTMENTS
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'...
opinion
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...
Help
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 & ...