Tuesday, 19 August 2008

QLD judge-only trials 'not the answer'

Civil libertarian Terry O'Gorman says judge-only trials are not the answer.

Laws to go to Parliament next week will allow the prosecution or the defence to apply for a trial to be heard by a judge-only in some complex or notorious cases.

In rare notorious or complex trials, judges may sit without a jury.

Civil libertarian Terry O'Gorman says judge-only trials are not the answer in matters such as the Ferguson and Patel cases.

"In controversial trials, the only way to deal with recent problems is to allow questioning of jurors," he said.

"If the judge-only trial is being brought in to deal with recent incidents of controversial figures and media excessive publicity, we reject it for that reason.

"We say the real way of fixing up that problem is to allow questioning of jurors."

Wrongful convictions

Retired Supreme Court Judge Jim Thomas said hung juries can waste a lot of money, but the community must decide whether it's prepared to bear that cost in return for a superior system.

"There's a greater risk of a wrongful conviction if you have a chance of someone being convicted by an 11-to-one vote than there is on a 12-nil vote," he said.

Mr O'Gorman is also opposed to majority verdicts.

"We say how can a verdict possibly be beyond reasonable doubt if one juror simply doesn't agree?" he said.

"We say that majority verdicts aren't healthy and they just encourage compromise, and that's not a proper way to run a jury system."


Justice Action submission regarding Dennis Ferguson, the ICOPA Resolution, and the Qsld Government review of sex offence management, is downloadable from their website.

Here is the Qsld review ”A New Public Protection Model for the Management of High Risk Sexual and Violent Offenders”.

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