Summary Procedure Case Management

Following detailed consultation with the profession, on 17 March 2014 Chief Magistrate Lowndes issued Practice Direction No. 4 of 2014 to expedite and  facilitate the effective case management of summary matters. Key features of the procedures are improved prosecution disclosure (by way of a requirement to serve a ‘preliminary brief’ at an early stage of proceedings); and case conferencing to encourage parties to identify and narrow issues in contention and, where possible, settle matters in a timely manner. These new procedures apply only in the Darwin Court of Summary Jurisdiction, at least for the time being.

Third Tony Fitzgerald Memorial Lecture

Please note change of time from 6.00 pm to 5.30 pm

Bell J Tony Fitzgerald Memorial Lecture

Alcohol Mandatory Treatment Act Review

CLANT has made this submission to the Review of the Alcohol Mandatory Treatment Act.  The submission focusses on the following five issues:

  1. The AMT Act review process, being conducted by the Department of Health, is not independent and lacks transparency.
  2. Persons being brought into the rehabilitation scheme are subject to powers which can be exercised arbitrarily and effectively in an unfettered and regulated fashion.
  3. The assessment process is a vehicle for injustice and can result in a person being deprived of their liberty with no effective judicial oversight.
  4. Persons are appearing before the Tribunal without representation and are being denied natural justice and therefore unable to participate fully in the decision making process which can deprive them of their liberty.
  5. Criminal sanctions attaching to the program operate counter-therapeutically and serve to undermine the purposes of the AMT Act.

Powers to order random drug and alcohol testing confirmed

Amendments to the Bail Act and the Domestic and Family Violence Act, together with associated Regulations, come into force on 5 February 2014.  Here is an extract from the Second Reading Speech:

Amendments to the Bail Act are necessary as a number of magistrates have been refusing to order tests and conditions which would oblige a person to undergo compliance testing such as a breath analysis that seeks to ensure they are complying with a condition that they not consume alcohol. The refusal to make these orders arose following a decision of a single judge in the New South Wales Supreme Court in Lawson v Dunlevy [2012] NSWSC 48.

...These amendments will put beyond doubt the ability of courts and police to make domestic violence orders and bail conditions that seek to ensure compliance with other orders and conditions.

Apology to Hon John Elferink, Attorney-General and Minister for Justice

I apologise to the Northern Territory Attorney-General, John Elferink, for the offence to him caused by my column published in the January 2014 edition of Balance.  Mr Elferink has specifically taken umbrage at the superimposition of the article (which included criticism of a comment he had made) on a photograph depicting a crowd of people delivering the Nazi salute.  As Mr Elferink courteously but firmly explained to me, it was offensive to associate him in this way with the Nazi regime, notwithstanding the following express assertion in the text of the article:

I am [not] worried that we are sliding towards fascism. I have no doubt that John Elferink is sincerely committed to securing the peace, order and good government of the Northern Territory, and moreover, I accept that his concerns [regarding the administration of the Serious Sex Offenders Act 2013] are both clear and proper: the protection of the community, and the protection of the public purse.

Despite that statement, the fact remains that I caused offence.  Like the Attorney, I believe in robust debate, but on reflection I agree that to publish my article in conjunction with the photograph as I did was an error of judgement on my part, and has been personally hurtful.  It was not my intention to wound, and I am embarrassed to now realise that this was the effect of my publication.  For that I unreservedly apologise.

Russell Goldflam
President, CLANT

It's a Gong! Sally Thomas AC

CLANT congratulates Her Honour the Honourable Sally Gordon Thomas AC, who in the Australia Day 2014  Honours List was made a Companion in the General Division of the Order of Australia "for eminent service to the people of the Northern Territory, particularly to the judiciary and social justice, to the advancement of women in the legal profession, to youth, and to the promotion and development of tertiary education".

Her Honour was appointed in 2011 as Administrator of the Northern Territory, after distinguished service over a period of more than two decades as a Northern Territory judicial officer, including seven years as Chief Magistrate, followed by 17 years as a Judge.

Sally Thomas is a much admired and much loved member of the Northern Territory legal community.  This high honour is a fitting acknowledgment of her achievements and contributions.

Library services for Alice Springs prisoners

CLANT is delighted to hear that Alice Springs Correctional Services inmates now have access to library services through the Alice Springs Public Library.

Thanks go to Birgit Nielsen and Georgina Davison from the Alice Springs Public Library; Kevin Raby and Madonna Cochrane from the Alice Springs Correctional Centre; and to CLANT member and law librarian Helen Edney, all of whom were instrumental in getting this much-needed service up and running.

CLANT has supported this initiative, and welcomes its establishment.

For obvious reasons, it is impracticable for prisons to maintain a comprehensive collection of reading material in-house, so this service makes very good sense.  We hope that before too long similar services will be made available to prisoners at the Darwin and Tennant Creek correctional facilities. 

Opposing Racial Vilification

On 10 December 2013, CLANT joined 154 other organisations across Australia in calling for the retention of the provisions in the Racial Discrimination Act 1975 (Cth) outlawing racial vilification, by co-signing this Open Letter to the Commonwealth Attorney-General.

CLANT provides further assistance to Titus Ani

At its December 2013 meeting, the CLANT Committee unanimously resolved to provide a further $15,000 to assist Titus Ani, a Nigerian national on death row in Bali.

In a previous note, we informed members of CLANT's support for this case (an initial grant of $10,000 in about 2010, and a further grant of $20,000 in 2012).  Mr Ani’s legal team addressed the 2013 CLANT Bali conference, and presented this  case note and a paper on the general principles raised by the case, "International Law and the Death Row Phenomenon".

On 18 December 2013, CLANT received the following update from Mr Ani's pro bono legal team:

In October of this year we filed Titus’ final appeal.  This documentation included affidavits from 10 witnesses, 5 expert reports and detailed legal submissions.

The evidence is compelling and proves beyond any doubt that Titus Ani has been incorrectly sentenced as someone he is not.  He has been sentenced as a regular drug trafficker.  This is incorrect and we can prove this in Court. 

In a few weeks time, Titus will mark 10 years since he was imprisoned.  The majority of that time has been on death row.

We are presently awaiting hearing dates.  We had thought that the hearing would have taken place by now.  It is likely that dates will now be provided early in the new year.

While the delay has been frustrating on one level it has been quite helpful on another.  We are flying 4 Nigerian witnesses to the hearing and have experienced great difficulties in obtaining visas for each of them.  The extra time has allowed us to retain Nigerian counsel to assist in obtaining the visas.  We will find a way through this complex bureaucracy to ensure that the Court is presented with all witnesses of fact.

In the meantime, and on behalf of Titus’ entire legal team and Titus himself, thank you for your support, and we wish you a very happy Christmas.

Churchill Fellowships - 2014 Information Session

CLANT members who attended the 2013 Bali conference will recall this excellent presentation by Churchill Fellow and CLANT member Jared Sharp.  Well, maybe you too can become a Churchill Fellow!  To find our more, come along to the Churchill Fellowships 2014 Information Session at 5.15 pm on 28 January 2014, at the Jury Muster Room, Supreme Court, State Square Darwin.  For further details, click here.

Community calls for action on alcohol

APONT (Aboriginal Peak Organisations NT) has recently released the Central Australian Grog Summit report which calls on the government to listen to the community and the experts on alcohol.

The Grog Summit brought together over 100 people from Aboriginal communities and organisations across the NT and a number of experts with academic and community experience to discuss alcohol-related harm in the community. The participants agreed that alcohol policy should be based on evidence, and that strategies should be holistic and community driven. The Report presents the community participants' and experts' views, and outlines a comprehensive multi-pronged approach to dealing with alcohol-related harm in the community. 

Significantly, representatives of Aboriginal organisations and communities in attendance at the Grog Summit have also called for a joint Northern Territory government and Commonwealth government Board of Inquiry into Alcohol Consumption and Harm in the NT. A copy of the proposed terms of reference is available here.

NT Women's Lawyers' Association xmas soiree

The NT Women's Lawyers' Association invites women laywers, colleagues and champions to its Christmas soiree on Thursday 12 December 2013, 5pm to 7pm, at the NT Anti-Discrimination Commission Courtroom in Darwin.

The guest speaker will be Judge Alexandra Harland, Federal Circuit Court, who will discuss topical tropical issues.

$5 for members

$15 for non-members

Christmas Party Invitation 2013 v4

2013 National Indigenous Legal Conference a big success

CLANT congratulates CAALAS on hosting the successful 2013 National Indigenous Legal Conference. CAALAS, NAAJA and a number of other conference participants have released a joint media release condemning discriminatory practices under Stronger Futures. You can read the media release here.

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