find the latest legal job
Senior Associate - Litigation & Dispute Resolution
Category: Litigation and Dispute Resolution | Location: Melbourne CBD & Inner Suburbs Melbourne VIC
· Come work for a firm ranked in Lawyers Weekly Top 25 Attraction Firms
View details
Associate - Workplace Relations & Safety
Category: Industrial Relations and Employment Law | Location: Brisbane CBD & Inner Suburbs Brisbane QLD
· Employer of choice · Strong team culture
View details
Freelance Lawyers
Category: Banking and Finance Law | Location: All Perth WA
· Freelance opportunities through Vario from Pinsent Masons
View details
Freelance Lawyers
Category: Other | Location: All Adelaide SA
· • Qualified lawyer with a strong academic background
View details
Freelance Lawyers
Category: Other | Location: All Melbourne VIC
· • Qualified lawyer with a strong academic background
View details
QLD jury changes spark legal dismay

QLD jury changes spark legal dismay

CHANGES TO the justice system by the Queensland Government have been met with criticism by the state’s legal community, with claims that amending the law without consulting the profession has…

CHANGES TO the justice system by the Queensland Government have been met with criticism by the state’s legal community, with claims that amending the law without consulting the profession has set an “alarming precedent”.

The announcement will see amendments to the Jury Act 2005 as well as the Criminal Code by introducing judge-only trials and majority verdicts by juries, and were introduced into Parliament this week.

In an open letter to Queensland Attorney-General Kerry Shine, state Law Society President Megan Mahon expressed her concern that the legal community had not been consulted on the changes. “In fact, we do see this as an alarming precedent,” she said.

“We are concerned at the ever-increasing tendency for important pieces of legislation which have potential dramatic effects on established rights to be put forward with cursory or no consultation.”

But Shine hit back at the statement, declaring that the reforms “have not sprung from thin air, they reflect existing practices in other jurisdictions”.

He said copies of the draft legislation have been sent to the Queensland Law Society, the Bar Association and heads of jurisdiction, with the Government welcoming any feedback.

Those drafts were circulated last week, with the first consultation occurring on Wednesday 20 August, just days before the legislation was introduced into Parliament on Monday 25 August.

A spokesperson from the Law Society said Wednesday’s meeting was not a consultation, but rather little more than a briefing, because they believed that the changes had already been made.

A spokesperson from the Attorney-General’s Department said the Law Society and the Bar Association had now provided their feedback and it had been taken away for consideration. “They had an opportunity to look at it this week, they provided their input and changes will be made if required,” he said.

The Law Society also expressed concern over the lack of evidence supporting the changes, which will see a majority verdict given if a jury cannot reach a unanimous decision after a deliberation of more than eight hours.

Mahon said: “It is our view that an eight-hour deliberation is by no means a long deliberation, given that the decision of the jury has such a huge and profound effect on the life and liberty of the defendant.”

In questioning how the Government came up with eight hours, Mahon said she hoped the timeframe had not been motivated by cost considerations.

Backing up the decision, the Attorney-General said there has been an increase in the number of hung juries. “In 2005-06, 4.4 per cent of trials resulted in hung juries — that increased to 5.6 per cent in 2006-07 and to 7.5 per cent in 2007-08,” he said. “If the number of hung juries can be reduced then this will result in fewer victims or witnesses having to again undergo the trauma of giving evidence in often distressing circumstances.”

Premier Anna Bligh announced the changes last week and said that the changes allowing a judge to hear a matter alone, will be particularly useful for the justice system — especially for cases of complexity and/or notoriety.

The Attorney-General backed up the move, with Shine stating that other jurisdictions have already made provisions for judge-only trials and that, “such a move was not out of step with national and international practice.”

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

QLD jury changes spark legal dismay
lawyersweekly logo
Promoted content
Recommended by Spike Native Network
more from lawyers weekly
Quentin Bryce
Oct 18 2017
DV has worsened in a generation: Quentin Bryce
Former governor-general of Australia Dame Quentin Bryce AD CVO has spoken of her deep distress about...
Lawyers
Oct 18 2017
Academics entertain the idea of law without lawyers
Researchers from Queensland will explore some of the most disruptive trends tipped to transform the ...
Please, Continue (Hamlet), Melbourne Festival
Oct 16 2017
Hamlet suffers slings and arrows of top Victorian barristers
Victorian judges and barristers have performed the unique play Please, Continue (Hamlet) at the Melb...
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 & ...