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
Legal bodies reject ‘unwarranted attack’ on courts

Legal bodies reject ‘unwarranted attack’ on courts

debate, talk, ministers

Legal bodies have criticised claims by several government ministers that Victoria’s courts are handing down lenient sentences for terrorism offences.

The Victorian Bar and the Judicial Conference of Australia responded to comments published in The Australian on Wednesday from Health Minister Greg Hunt, as well as fellow Victorian ministers Michael Sukkar and Alan Tudge.

The ministers attacked the Victorian judiciary over comments made during an appeal by the Commonwealth Director of Public Prosecutions (CDPP) against the sentence imposed on Sevdet Ramadan Besim. Mr Besim was given 10 years in prison, with a non-parole period of seven and a half years, for planning to attack a police officer on Anzac Day in 2015.

The CDPP appealed the decision, arguing that the sentence was inadequate. The ministers seized on comments made during the appeal by Victorian Supreme Court Chief Justice Marilyn Warren AC and Justice Mark Weinberg about the differences in sentencing between NSW and Victoria.

The ministers said the Victorian courts are becoming a forum for “ideological experiments” and judges are putting the rights of terrorists before the safety of the rest of the community by sentencing them too lightly.  

Victorian Bar president Jennifer Batrouney QC said it was disturbing that comments made in court were misconstrued by the ministers.

“Respect for the rule of law requires respect for the process of law,” she said in a statement.

“It is of great concern that comments made by judges during the hearing of an appeal, which is yet to be determined, are being taken out of context in the political debate.

“Robust commentary and discussion are a hallmark of a strong democracy, but so too is respect for the law, due process and the independence of the judiciary. These statements give the perception that they are calculated to influence the court’s decision before judgment is given. That intrusion is inconsistent with respect for the rule of law.”

Justice Robert Beech-Jones, the president of the Judicial Conference of Australia, said the ministers’ statements were unfounded, grossly improper and unfair.

He challenged the statement, attributed to Mr Sukkar, that comments made by Chief Justice Warren and Justice Weinberg could undermine the public’s confidence in the judiciary’s treatment of terrorism. Justice Beech-Jones noted that the comments were part of the normal exchange that takes place between judges during an appeal, and did not necessarily represent the court’s final views.

“It was not inappropriate for members of the court to consider and comment upon sentences imposed in other states,” he said.

“To the contrary, the judges were required to do so as part of their duty to address the submissions of the parties, including the CDPP.

“The only statements that serve to undermine confidence in the legal system were those of the ministers and not of the court.”

This latest furore follows Immigration Minister Peter Dutton’s criticism of the Administrative Appeals Tribunal.

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

Legal bodies reject ‘unwarranted attack’ on courts
lawyersweekly logo
Promoted content
Recommended by Spike Native Network
more from lawyers weekly
Scales of Justice, ALA, right-to-die law
Oct 24 2017
‘Right-to-die’ laws would be a relief for terminally ill: ALA
The passage of an assisted dying bill through the lower house of Victorian Parliament has been haile...
Diversity
Oct 24 2017
Diversity top of agenda for future WA Law Society president
The advancement of diversity in the Western Australian legal profession will be one of the key items...
Jetski
Oct 23 2017
How to fail well
The legal profession is due for an attitude adjustment when it comes to perceived failures, accordin...
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 & ...