gallery Direct Briefing part two

I want to apologize to anyone offended by my last blog article on direct briefing.

This is a blog, and it is my blog. It does not represent the Law Institute Victoria “LIV” in any way and that last blog article was never expressed as being the view of the LIV.  There is no LIV plan or proposal to have a blacklist and, as I understand it, the process is being expanded  to all legal practitioners who want to be on the list.

I  still think it is a remarkably ill-considered and badly implemented idea.

For those of you forwarded my email I apologize if you believed “a list of barristers who go on the list will be posted on the “Not to brief before hell freezes over” website” . Before you rush to the web you will be pleased to know that there is no such website and that the creation of that website was a joke. I was suggesting the link to my article was meant to be forwarded not the lame joke.

My view is that this is a matter of the Government (Federal and State) not funding the Courts and properly and that is the issue that should be addressed.

I was voted on the executive of the LIV criminal law section and have been a criminal law section committee member for nigh on 20 years. I received an award from the LIV last year (which I was grateful for) for services to the Law. That award was for the close to a thousand hours (we did the calculations) I have spent working in a voluntary capacity for the LIV on committees and the like over a very long time.

Some at the Criminal Bar Association “CBA” have taken offence and said that my blog causes a problem for the CBA and LIV approach to the direct briefing proposal. I am told that in some ways that the appearance that my blog reflects the view of the LIV criminal law committee will affect the CBA in how they approach this issue.

I struggle to understand that position but have no desire to be an impediment in what is done by the LIV and CBA in relation to this and the other issues that they face in the near future.

The complaint from the Bar was sent to me with an email from one of our committee stating;

“No doubt the removal of the blog article, or some modification of it – to water down or remove the attack of the bar – would go a long way to mending the issue. That of course is matter for you…”

I wrote what I believed to be true and I am not removing the blog or watering it down to placate people who disagree with my view. If I was being, inadvertently, defamatory or had by mistake caused distress to someone I would take it down straight away. That is not the case here.

There is another option which seems far better in all the circumstances and as such I am resigning my position on the LIV criminal law executive immediately. I will not attend the meeting tomorrow morning (which is at 7.30 am – so there’s a blessing) and will not participate further in the deliberations of the committee. Therefore neither I nor my blog can be considered related to the Law Institute at all (not even by the wildest conspiracy theorist) .

Lastly, as a friend pointed out, there is a fair degree of  humour in my previous blog being about unintended consequences.

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One comment

  1. Bravo on your principled stance re Direct Briefing. As a non-lawyer, it worries me greatly that the Criminal Justice System has evolved into an entity beginning with the fact that 85% of Parliamentarians have a Law Degree and are responsible for proposing, formulating and promoting legislation, where lawyers administer the Criminal Justice System on the prosecutorial side as well as the defence, where the Director of Public Prosecutions, a lawyer, determines who will be tried, where penalties are imposed by lawyers and sentencing and incarceration in particular, is devised and implemented by lawyers, influenced as they are by political considerations. Input from a broad base of Victorians, representing widely divergent views and opinions, is sadly lacking and there appears to be little or no awareness amongst lawyers of the impact on society of such a homogenous group (in terms of intellect, training, deep cognitive structure of legal processes and problem solving etc.) wielding such power and responsibility.

    Now we learn that the Injustice gap is to widen further, with Legal Aid becoming quite a precious commodity and the notion of a fair trial for all comers fading rapidly into history. Let’s get all this into perspective: your legal colleagues in Parliament have chosen to buy votes by the cynical use of the “tough on crime” approach, despite no scientific evidence of its efficacy in reducing crime. Your professional colleagues in all areas of justice administration have the capacity to volubly reject moves that further disadvantage the already disadvantaged. Consensus needs to be developed and campaigns of non-cooperation with unworkable or unfair policies need to be courageously mounted in a united display of solidarity with the community. You would garner a great deal of public support for such a stance.

    The majority of the Victorians most likely to find themselves at the pointy end of the Justice System are those who do not understand or follow the changing landscape of Legal Aid’s debasement. They will suffer most from inadequate representation by overwhelmed lawyers struggling to do their job plus that of assistants no longer available. There are already numerous accounts of the disparity between representation related to one’s material worth and recently I read a trial transcript in which the administrative decision of a Judge followed directly on the heels of the question, “Is this case legal aid funded or private?”
    How many other decisions depend on the answer to that very question? Perhaps Criminal Lawyers could comment on the “You get the Justice you can afford” epithet that professionals in my circles often derisively quote.

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