TEN GUILTY WITCHES

In February 1692, in a secluded village in the isolated British American colony of Massachusetts, 9-year-old Betty Parris and her 11-year-old cousin Abigail Williams, began to behave very strangely indeed. It seems they had recently taken to screaming, ranting and raving, throwing objects hither and thither, making weird noises, and generally behaving in a way [...]

October 4th, 2019|Criminal Law, International, Opinion, Politics|

BEHAVING BADLY O.S.

Last week, Australian man Jock Palfreeman was released from a Bulgarian prison after being incarcerated for 8 years and 11 months for the murder of a local law student in 2007. Palfreeman has consistently protested his innocence, his legal team unsuccessfully arguing at his trial that the fatal incident occurred after he ran to the [...]

September 27th, 2019|Criminal Law, International|

THE VIOLENCE THEY SUFFER

Four men made headlines recently for chasing down a knife-wielding man in a crowded Sydney street and, armed only with milk crates and chairs, tackling him to the ground, disarming him and detaining him until police arrived.  The male firefighters who leapt out of their firetruck in the busy traffic and joined the chase, wielding [...]

August 29th, 2019|Criminal Law, Domestic Violence|

TAKING IT TO THE STREETS

We've all heard the news of protesters demonstrating in the streets of Hong Kong, decrying the proposed amendments to that city's extradition laws with China. We've seen the television news footage of university students, right here in Australia, pushing and shoving each other over whether Hong Kong citizens should be tried in the Communist mainland. [...]

August 22nd, 2019|Criminal Law, Human Rights, International|

NOT MUCH OF A BARGAIN

Once upon a time, if you did the crime you did the time. If not, you walked.  Nowadays, it can be somewhat more complicated. The practice of criminal law in Australia is increasingly embracing the time-honoured US model of down-and-dirty, pragmatic plea-bargaining deals between prosecution and defence, aimed at achieving a compromise acceptable to both [...]

August 9th, 2019|Criminal Law|

PREDICTIVE POLICING

Robot judges in Estonia? American AI sentencing criminals to prison? Computers predicting crimes before they even happen? One may be forgiven for thinking such concepts come straight from a science fiction novel, or the rabid rantings of an online conspiracy theorist. The truth is they are all part of today’s reality. And it looks like [...]

August 2nd, 2019|Criminal Law|

SECRET X FILES

This week Sky News aired the explosive documentary “Lawyer X: The Untold Story”, recounting the sorry tale of the now-notorious double-dealings of former Melbourne Barrister, Nicola Gobbo.  Gobbo, who over a lengthy period represented a string of high-profile criminal underworld figures, was earlier this year sensationally exposed as a long-term secret police informant. According to [...]

July 24th, 2019|Criminal Law, Opinion|

IN DEFENCE OF THE DEFENCE

This week the Queensland opposition launched a robust attack on a centuries-old criminal law defence. The 'mistake of fact’ defence was encoded into Queensland law in 1899 when our Criminal Code was first enacted, adopting a common-law notion dating back at least as far as pre-Norman England, that criminal liability requires some sort of actual [...]

July 12th, 2019|Criminal Law|

HIGH TIME FOR REFORM?

A common submission by Queensland defence lawyers representing drug-driving offenders goes something like this: “My client had not in fact smoked cannabis for several days prior to driving, but hangover traces of the drug must have remained in his system, unbeknownst to him."It's an entirely proper and appropriate submission to make because, while it doesn't [...]

July 5th, 2019|Criminal Law, Traffic Law|

HARD CASES

Lawyers have this thing they sometimes like to say. “Hard cases make bad law.” It’s true. About thirty years ago I got the job to represent a nice, sweet, softly-spoken lady who stabbed her husband 87 times with a serrated kitchen knife. Not surprisingly he ended up dead as a doornail. According to the neighbours, [...]

June 28th, 2019|Criminal Law|