The right to trial by jury will be removed under proposed reforms to the Queensland justice system.
Queensland Law Society (QLS) President Peter Eardley voiced the society's objections to proposed reforms under the Civil and Criminal Jurisdiction Reform and Modernisation Amendment Bill 2009. "Having your case heard by a jury is one our most fundamental rights. Removing this right for so many serious offences is a direct attack on an essential element of our democracy."
The Queensland Government has been 'cherry-picking' key elements from the Moynihan Report, Eardley said, while ignoring other essential safeguards suggested.
The Moynihan Report on reform of the justice system suggested that, rather than defence cross-examining witnesses at a committal hearing, police would certify that all the evidence against the accused had been disclosed.
Despite this recommendation, the Government has proposed to remove the right to cross-examine witnesses, without providing a safeguard such as police certification of evidence disclosure. "Based on what the Government proposes, an accused person could arrive at court for trial with little or no idea of the extent of the evidence against them," Eardley said.
"This will ultimately result in longer, more costly, hearings, which defeats a major aim of the reform process. But, more significantly, there is no doubt that this will increase the risk of miscarriages of justice."