Legal News & Views

  • Claremont murder trial, judges and apprehended bias and Victorian children on remand who never receive a custodial sentence

    The Perth trial of Bradley Robert Edwards, found guilty of two of the three Claremont murders. How should we deal with judges who are biased or incompetent? And, a new Victorian report finds that two thirds of children who spend time on remand never receive a custodial sentence.

  • VALE Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg. High Court of Australia rules that an off-duty soldier can face trial in military court

    Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg’s death has ignited raw and intense political wrangling over how to fill her seat on the US Supreme Court. We reflect on her legacy and the political manoeuvering. And, in a case involving a soldier known only as Private R, the High Court of Australia has determined that a trial for ADF members can be held in the military justice system even when the alleged crime was not connected to military service.

  • Bill to ban mobile phones in immigration detention. And Supreme Court win for remote NT residents over poor housing

    The House of Representatives recently passed a bill which will strip mobile phones from people in immigration detention. Will the bill pass the Senate? What does this mean for asylum seekers?     And residents of the remote Northern Territory community of Santa Teresa have just won a big legal victory over NT Housing. One elderly representative litigant Enid, whose house didn’t have a back door for 6 years has just had her compensation increase from $100 to $10,000, a win that will have big implications for other communities.

  • Judicial inquiry into COVID-19 hotel quarantine in Victoria

    The vast majority of COVID-19 cases in Victoria’s second wave of the pandemic are traceable to breaches of hotel quarantine. What went so horribly wrong? A judicial inquiry is trying to find out.   So far, a lot of the evidence has focussed on how the roles and responsibilities of private security guards fitted with those of the police, government authorised officers, health providers and hotel staff.

  • Clive Palmer v WA, gag laws on sexual assault survivors in Victoria and considering personality disorders when sentencing

    How might Clive Palmer challenge WA legislation designed to thwart his legal action against the WA government? Also, in Victoria, sexual assault survivors now require a court order before they can speak publicly about their experience. Following protests the law is currently under 'urgent' review. And the Victorian Court of Appeal has just handed down a landmark decision involving 19 year old Daylia Brown. It allows sentencing judges to consider an offender’s personality disorder when calculating an appropriate prison term.

  • VP Candidate Kamala Harris, Australian police accountability and body cams

    What is Democratic Vice Presidential candidate Kamala Harris' record on law and justice issues? A review of the legal framework around Police Body Worn Video Cameras has just been released by the NSW Department of Communities and Justice. Who decides what gets recorded? And what factors are considered when a complaint is made against Victoria Police?

  • Tackling modern slavery

    In the battle to secure PPE to protect ourselves from COVID 19 are we turning a blind eye to forced labour? Is our federal Modern Slavery Act up to the task and why has the separate Modern Slavery legislation in NSW been put on ice? Also, the first criminal conviction for keeping slaves in New Zealand's modern history.

  • Singapore introduces COVID 19 electronic bracelets. And media freedom in Malaysia

    One in four Victorians supposed to be self-isolating for COVID 19 were found to be not at home.  Starting today Singapore will allow some new arrivals to wear an electronic bracelet, instead of quarantining in a state-run facility. Could this be a more effective way to monitor those who should be staying at home?. And in Kuala Lumpur, the offices of Al Jazeera were raided by police because the government objected to the Australian journalist's negative report on the treatment of undocumented foreign workers. It’s just the latest in a series of government responses to criticism that have many concerned for media freedom in Malaysia.

  • What is a 'state of disaster'? And Sole Practitioner loses sexual harassment appeal

    Victoria has just been declared a state of disaster. What powers does this confer? And the Full Federal Court has unanimously upheld an earlier decision of the Federal Circuit Court which awarded $170,000 in damages to Catherine Hill. Ms Hill was a junior lawyer who was sexually harassed by her employer, Owen Hughes, a Sole Practitioner based in northern NSW.

  • Queensland parliament to vote on legalising Torres Strait Island childrearing practices

    Before the next Queensland election, state parliament will vote on The Torres Strait Islander Traditional Child Rearing Practice Bill. If passed, the legislation will officially recognise the adoption practices of Torres Strait Islanders. This ground breaking bill was introduced into the Queensland Parliament by the first Torres Strait Islander member of parliament, Cynthia Lui.

  • Family violence killing found to be a workplace death

    The NSW Court of Appeal found that the killing of a woman by her de facto husband at home was a workplace death and her family are entitled to workers compensation. This decision was handed down in March, just at the time when millions began working from home due to the Covid-19 pandemic. So what are the implications of this case for workers and their employers? If you or anyone you know is affected by family violence there is help available at 1800 RESPECT 1800 737 732 Lifeline on 13 11 14 safe steps on 1800 015 188 Kids Helpline on 1800 551 800 MensLine Australia on 1300 789 978

  • New security laws are designed to confuse, says former Hong Kong barrister. And, should the Bernard Collaery trial be held in secret?

    Hong Kong authorities warned voters choosing pro-democracy candidates in the primaries ahead of September elections that they could fall foul of new National Security legislation. A prominent former barrister says the new laws are designed to confuse. And, the Bernard Collaery trial. How should Australia's court system balance open justice with keeping state secrets?

  • Melbourne public housing lockdown, and US online library sued for IP breaches

    A voice from the towers in the Melbourne lockdown, and major book publishers sue the online library, Internet Archive, for breach of copyright.

  • Covid-19 and family law

    The Covid-19 crisis has transformed our family law courts. In response to a surge in disputes over parenting plans, the Family Law Courts created a Covid-19 List to hear urgent cases using Microsoft Teams. And this is not an isolated example, right now most hearings are taking place in a virtual space rather than in a bricks and mortar courtroom. So will these new virtual courts stay with us in a post-pandemic future? And if you're in an abusive situation, or know someone who is, call 1-800 RESPECT. That's 1-800 737 732. If it's an emergency, call 000.

  • Sexual harassment findings against retired High Court judge. Melbourne lawyer sentenced to jail for theft

    An independent investigation commissioned by the High Court found that six former staff members were sexually harassed by the former judge Dyson Heydon. A suburban lawyer has been sentenced to jail for stealing from his clients, including taking money from trust accounts. What is the best way to regulate lawyers?

  • Sexual harassment findings against retired High Court judge. Melbourne lawyer sentenced to jail for theft

    An independent investigation commissioned by the High Court found that six former staff members were sexually harassed by the former judge Dyson Heydon. A suburban lawyer has been sentenced to jail for stealing from his clients, including taking money from trust accounts. What is the best way to regulate lawyers?

  • Retired Magistrate David Heilpern critical of NSW drug driving laws

    In northern NSW, Lismore Local Court Magistrate David Heilpern has just retired at the age of 58. In a candid conversation about his working life, its challenges and stresses, he also outlines his misgivings about the NSW drug driving laws which played a big role in his decision to step down.

  • George Floyd killer charged with 2nd degree murder. Australian Black Lives Matter protests. And the case of the Hitler meme.

    As Derek Chauvin appears in court charged with 2nd degree murder, jurisdictions across the US are looking at how to change police culture. In Australia, what can be done immediately to end black deaths in custody? And a Perth refinery worker sacked for parodying his bosses using a well known Hitler meme returns to work after a decision of the full bench of the Federal Court.

  • In a legal first, a car driver evading police is jailed for murder. And is the Races Power in our Constitution an anachronism?

    Kylee King, a drug affected driver who killed motor cyclist Jordan Thorsager while engaging police in a high speed car chase has been convicted of murder. And should our federal constitution contain a power that allows parliament to make laws for particular races?

  • Two coronial inquests make findings about unconscious racism

    For Reconciliation Week, a reflective discussion on two significant recent coronial inquests where the families of the deceased asked the coroner to make finding about unconscious bias or racism. Yorta Yorta woman Tanya Day died after sustaining serious head injuries in a Victorian police cell in 2017, and Naomi Williams, a pregnant 27-year-old Wiradjuri woman, died of sepsis in hospital in regional NSW in 2016. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Island peoples should be aware that this program and website contains images and names of people who have passed away and that traumatic events will be described.