This blog has previously noted how there is little evidence that mandatory sentencing is an effective deterrent. Which is why it is disappointing that the Queensland government intends to introduce it for “one punch killers”:
ONE-PUNCH killers would face life imprisonment under proposed changes to Queensland laws. Continue reading
Just hours ago, the Brisbane Supreme Court jury delivered its verdict in the Brett Peter Cowan trial, finding him guilty of murdering Daniel Morcombe in December 2003, as well as of interfering with his remains. Continue reading
It may have taken a long time, but justice has finally caught up with former Health Services National Secretary and federal Labor MP Craig Thomson, who was today found guilty of defrauding his former union. The verdict today is final confirmation that Thomson did indeed rort large sums of money during his time as head of the HSU.
The Courier Mail today reports that Former Bundaberg hospital surgeon Jayant Patel is suing his defence team for $884,000.
The article suggests that Dr Patel’s case is that his solicitors and barrister were too inexperienced to properly defend him, and this inter alia resulted in them failing to obtain full particulars of the charges, a comprehensive signed written proof of evidence containing his responses to the charges or consider the need to retain expert evidence to rebut medical expert witnesses’s allegations regarding his competence to perform the operations.
Convicted murderer Simon Gittany was today sentenced to 26 years imprisonment for throwing his then fiance Lisa Harnum off their 15th floor high rise balcony. The minimum non-parole period handed down is 18 years. Of course, I have no doubt that Gittany committed the offence in question. Considering the atrocity of his crime, Justice Lucy McCallum’s sentence appears to have been appropriate. But it is interesting to compare the reported sentencing remarks with the legislative purposes of sentencing.
The ABC Fact checker has an interesting look at the evidence concerning mandatory sentencing in the wake of the NSW Government’s announcement of minimum jail terms for lethal assaults involving drugs or alcohol. Their conclusion is that there is little evidence in favour of it.
Mandatory sentencing is something that I have always felt uncomfortable with. The main problem is that it results in a court not being able to consider all the facts when sentencing, with the result that individuals convicted of the same offence will often if not usually receive exactly the penalty, even if the circumstances of the offender and the offence are quite different.
To my mind, the only possible justification for mandatory sentencing is that it deters offenders, thereby reducing crime levels. On the evidence, mandatory sentencing has a very limited effect (if any) on crime rates. It should therefore not be used widely, if at all.
When I act for clients suspected of having committed criminal offences, I always advise them to say nothing to the police until and unless they have cleared what they want to say with me first. This video explains why you have everything to lose and nothing to gain by talking to police.
Surprisingly, I get this question every so often from people who meet me and know I am a lawyer, including clients (but not criminal law clients). It’s an interesting question because it involves resolving conflicts between my duties to the client and my duties to the court. As this article will demonstrate, the answer is not a simple one.
Behind the issue of Fardon himself lies a legal controversy
Tonight Robert Fardon is out of jail, having been released by the Queensland Court of Appeal. However, he will be subject to a supervision order which will impose requirements designed to mitigate the risk of re-offending. Fardon has an awful criminal history, including convictions for numerous sexual offences, one count of unlawful wounding, and many property offences. Fardon had been detained under the Queensland Dangerous Prisoners (Sexual Offenders) Act 2003, a piece of legislation designed to protect the community from the worst recidivists. Not surprisingly, the decision to release Fardon has attracted controversy.
Yet the controversy does not only concern Fardon: in the background to this case there have been strained tensions between the new Queensland Government and the Queensland judiciary due to legislation passed through the Queensland Parliament which has fettered the powers of the courts, and which many political and legal experts have argued infringe upon the doctrine of the separation of powers.