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
DPP independence queried

DPP independence queried

THE SOUTH Australian Government last week committed itself to a “comprehensive, Australia-wide search” for a new Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP). While the media commented on…

THE SOUTH Australian Government last week committed itself to a “comprehensive, Australia-wide search” for a new Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP).

While the media commented on the unlikely appeal of the role, as well as public confidence in it, the Law Society of South Australia acknowledged the “sterling” performance of the former DPP. In an assessment of the Office of the DPP, the Society also said it should remain independent.

Following the resignation last week of Paul Rofe QC, SA Law Society president David Howard said Rofe had given “sterling service” to the community in his role. But it was disappointing that his “very substantial excellent service” and contribution to the criminal justice system in the state had been overshadowed by recent controversies.

Rofe said his resignation came last week for two reasons.

The first was medical advice “that if I continue in the job, the stress levels that I have experienced, there is a very real possibility that I will have another stroke similar to the one — or more serious than the one — I had in 1999”.

The second reason: “I really want to take the personalities out of the tensions that have been existing between government and my office and I think removing myself personally will hopefully ensure the future stability and operation of the office”.

Public confidence has been eroded in the state’s criminal justice system following the resignation of the DPP, SA Liberal Shadow A-G Robert Lawson said last week. He argued the affair had been completely mishandled by the Rann Government.

Law Society president Howard agreed that “during the last two weeks there has been sustained political pressure upon and media speculation about the DPP, arguably to the point where public confidence in the Office has been lost”.

A central issue in the media’s interest in the resignation was a case involving Paul Nemer, who was originally given a $100 bond for shooting a newsagent in the face. Reacting to public outrage, the Government appealed against the sentence and Nemer was jailed.

Regarding how the role was seen by the public, Rofe himself said the Office had been “destabilised” to some extent. “The reflections on me personally in the Nemer case obviously transfer across to the kids who are working for me.”

Shadow A-G Lawson implied that this interference was not a positive one. “The Government … has sought to undermine and discredit [Rofe]; they have politicised and interfered in what is supposed to be an independent office,” Lawson said.

The Law Society of South Australia, at least in some respects, agreed with the Shadow A-G that there should be an objective “of ensuring the independence of that Office from interference by the executive government in particular cases”.

The Government should legislate to re-establish the independence of the Office of the DPP, “which it claims to espouse”, Howard said. “The DPP is sufficiently accountable through reporting procedures to parliament. Those procedures are, I believe, sufficient to satisfy any reasonable demand for accountability and transparency.”

The fallout from the Nemer case stays with us, Howard said. “Let there be reasoned rational debate about what should be done. But let not the present situation with an ever-present threat of political interference in the prosecutorial process continue.”

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

DPP independence queried
lawyersweekly logo
Promoted content
Recommended by Spike Native Network
more from lawyers weekly
Oct 20 2017
Podcast: One of law’s most infamous alumni – in conversation with Julian Morrow
In this episode of The Lawyers Weekly Show, Melissa Coade is joined by The Chaser’s Julian Morrow....
Oct 20 2017
High Court overturns ‘excessive’ anti-protest legislation
Bob Brown’s recent victory in the High Court over the Tasmanian government was a win for fundament...
Oct 20 2017
Changes to Australian citizenship laws blocked
Attempts to beef up the requirements to obtain Australian citizenship were thwarted this week, after...
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 & ...