Consideration for a Judicial Commission

Categories: Criminal Lawyers
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Published on: October 9, 2016

Consideration for a Judicial Commission (JC)

  • A JC can be an independent statutory corporation that reports to the State Parliament.
  • The purpose of the JC is to publish information about criminal law cases to achieve consistency in imposing sentencing and the conduct of criminal proceedings. While we do not wish to infringe upon the discretion and independence of judicial officers, there should be consistency in assessing matters such as circumstances of aggravation or mitigation.
  • The JC would allow a form of CPD for the judiciary, to keep them up to date on the latest sentencing principles and provide confidence to the public that the judiciary is in touch with evolving societal values.
  • It affords a level of accountability by giving an avenue to examine complaints about judicial officers’ ability and behaviour. This will promote high standards of judicial performance and improve public confidence in the administration of justice.
  • The JC can be set up of 10 members who guide the direction of the JC and examine all complaints. Decisions should be made by at least 3 sitting members.
  • The JC is not there to discipline or sanction the judiciary, as this will affect independence. It is more a tool for educating both the judiciary and the public.  Corruption or extreme cases of proved misbehaviour or incapacity should still be governed by the CCC and other State bodies.
  • Conferences and seminars can be organised by the JC on a regular basis to keep judicial officers informed of current trends and developments within the law.
  • There should be the ability to search judgements made in the lower courts, such as the Magistrates and District courts, to assist the public to better understand decisions made and typical sentencing practices that occur on a daily basis, rather than only matters that are delivered in the superior courts.
  • If a JC is too onerous, current Acts can be amended to allow the Chief judicial officer of each respective court to be given powers to address complaints by forming a committee. Further education of the judicial officer can then take place and the complaint addressed.  If a grievous act has been committed and proved it can ultimately be referred directly to the Attorney General of WA for possible action.
  • Various forms of Judicial review have been established by the NSW, Victorian and Federal courts. WA would be following in these progressive steps by also keeping the judiciary accountable.

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