A Day in Court in ‘Keeping Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander People out of Custody’ by Chris Cunneen and David McDonald

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DETAILS OF MATTER BEFORE THE COURT

On the 11th of March 2014 at the Melbourne Magistrates Court, the lowest Court in the judicial hierarchy, a criminal hearing (file number D12223078) took place in Court 4 between the defendant, Adam Caleb Hines and Victoria Police CIU Transit. Senior Constable Ryan was the Informant in this matter. Magistrate Rozencwajg conducted the Court proceedings on this day.

The defendant was late and as a result the hearing was adjourned for half an hour.

When Court resumed the Clerk communicated to the Court to ‘please stand’ when Magistrate Rozencwajg entered the room, and to ‘please be seated’ once Magistrate Rozencwajg was seated.

THE FACTS AND LEGAL ISSUES

The defendant was indigenous. The defendant was in clear violation of the Crimes Act (1958) (Vic), and was facing multiple charges including:

• attempted armed robbery (2 accounts), breaching s 75A – Armed Robbery,

• being armed with criminal intent (2 accounts) breaching s 75A – Armed Robbery,

• threat to inflict serious injury (2 accounts), breaching s 21 – Threats to inflict serious injury,

• assault with weapon (2 accounts) breaching s 31 - Assaults and;

• obtain property by deception (2 accounts), breaching s 81 – obtaining property by deception.

All of the convictions were indictable offences. s 21, s 31, s 75A and s 81 all posed high and low level imprisonment terms if found guilty. This includes a level 2 imprisonment term of a 25 year maximum sentence per offence if the defendant was found guilty of breaching s 75A.

INTERACTIONS

The defendant’s representation was a young female duty lawyer. When asked by the Magistrate the reasoning for the defendant’s truancy in attending his Court case, she repli...

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...pected the Magistrate to be polite to his colleagues. This expectation was not met when I saw how rudely and harshly he spoke to the duty Lawyer representing the defendant. I did not expect to leave the Court feeling sorry for the representation.

I anticipated that the details of the case and the names of all the parties involved would be easily understood. In reality, the facts were harder to determine and comprehend then I originally thought because of the legal language used. I devoted my time to trying to understand the case and the lack of focus on other details meant I did not receive the name of the duty Lawyer.

I was surprised at the helpfulness shown to me from the Clerk. I did not believe that the Clerk, or any employees at the Court would have time to answer questions from a law student, however he was extremely helpful and explained things to me.

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