Innovative justice responses to sexual offending

CLANT commends readers to the Centre for Innovative Justice's recent report "Innovative justice responses to sexual offending – pathways to better outcomes for victims, offenders and the community", an important contribution to a difficult policy issue.

Death on Manus: Public forum

Death on Manus forum

Legislative amendments

Members are reminded of the following Northern Territory legislative amendments which came into force in April 2014:

  • Misuse of Drugs Act
    • scope of the aggravating circumstance of supply in an indigenous community broadened and tightened
    • Schedule 2 list rationalised
    • regulation-making power extended to include the moving of a drug, and specified quantities, from Schedule 2 to to Schedule 1
  • Criminal Code
    • s331B inserted, empowering a court to require a person to undergo an psychiatric or medical assessment by an expert nominated by the prosecutor and approved by the court, where the accused intends to lead expert evidence relating to their state of mind or medical condition
    • Powers of court and police to order forfeiture and destruction of child abuse material extended

CPD on Sentencing Federal Offenders

If you missed the CPD presented on 10 April 2014 by CLANT Committee members Lyma Nguyen and Rebekah O'Meagher on sentencing federal offenders, here are their pdfnotes and their handy pdfchecklist.

Council of Law Reporting (NT)

CLANT acknowledges the important (and largely voluntary) contribution by the Northern Territory Council of Law Reporting and its Editor-in-Chief, Cameron Ford, to the law, to lawyers and to the community through the publication of the Northern Territory Law Reports and the Northern Territory Law Journal.

CLANT has recently contributed $2,000 to support the Council's continued activities.

CLANT provides additional further assistance to Titus Ani

CLANT has previously provided some $45,000 to support the pro bono legal team acting to save the life of Nigerian national Titus Ani, who is on death row in Indonesia.  At its meeting on 16 April 2014, following a detailed briefing and update of the case from Colin MacDonald QC, the CLANT Committee unanimously resolved to provide a further $15,000 to this cause. 

Summary Procedure Reform

CLANT has made this Submission to the Northern Territory Government in relation to the Justice and Other Legislation Amendment (Summary Procedure) Bill  2014. CLANT supports the Bill's key aim of reforming the summary justice system to make it more efficient, in particular by having more cases settle, and at an earlier stage.  CLANT also supports the conferral of powers on magistrates to provide sentence indications and sentencing discounts of up to 40% for early pleas.

However, CLANT opposes the remainder of the Bill, which contains serious flaws and deals with procedural matters which, in CLANT’s submission, are best left to the court itself to manage.  As previously reported here, those matters are currently regulated by Practice Direction No. 4 of 2014, which was issued by the Chief Magistrate following detailed and comprehensive consultation with stakeholders, including CLANT. In CLANT's view, the Bill should be delayed at least until a reasonable opportunity has been provided to gauge the effectiveness of the Practice Direction.    

APH Inquiry into the harmful use of alcohol

CLANT has made this Submssion to the House of Representatives Standing Committee on Indigenous Affairs Inquiry into the harmful use of alcohol in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities, including these Recommendations:

  • This inquiry urge the Northern Territory Government to reinstate the Banned Drinkers Register
  • This Inquiry urge the Northern Territory Government to immediately provide access to data compiled by the NT Police and Department of Health which would enable the effect of the abolition of the Banned Drinkers Register to be independently evaluated
  • This Inquiry support the tiered volumetric taxation of alcohol, as recommended by the Henry Review.
  • This Inquiry urge the Northern Territory Government to fix a floor price for the purchase of alcohol.
  • This inquiry urge the Northern Territory Government to take the following measures in relation to the Alcohol Mandatory Treatment scheme:
    • Amend the AMT Act to:
      • guarantee legal representation for people appearing before the AMT Tribunal
      • remove all criminal sanctions for breaching AMT tribunal orders
      • clarify and limit the exercise of police powers of apprehension for the purposes of the operation of the AMT scheme
      • provide effective judicial review of decisions made in the assessment phase of the AMT scheme
    • Institute an independent evaluation of the AMT scheme and Act
  • This inquiry urge the Northern Territory Government to abolish the Alcohol Protection Order scheme.
  • This Inquiry invite the NT Police to explain the legal basis on which police exercise their powers under the Temporary Beat Locations program.
  • This Inquiry urge the Northern Territory Government to immediately provide access to data compiled by the NT Police and Department of Health, including data in relation to the cost of maintaining the program, which would enable the Temporary Beat Locations program to be independently evaluated.

NT contributors to ALJ sought

A message from Acting Justice Dean Mildren:

For some time there has been criticism of the ALJ because it is said to be too focused on NSW. The ALJ has decided to remedy this by establishing State and Territory editors to provide local input on matters which would be of interest to a wider readership. I have accepted the position of the NT editor. The NT will be able to publish items of interest twice annually. The items could be anything from a full article (if the matter was sufficiently noteworthy) or could be a series of short pieces dealing with such matters as latest cases, changes to practice and procedure, personalia (eg latest judicial or magisterial appointments, latest silks etc), proposed bills etc etc. Obviously material having an international focus would also be very welcome, eg matters having an NT connection with East Timor, Indonesia or anywhere else.

I am looking for people who would be interested in being contributors. 
At the moment I cannot say when our time slots will become available except that the first slot will definitely be this year, and I would like to make our first offerings relatively soon.
If you wish to become a contributor, please contact CLANT, and we will forward your message to Dean Mildren (NT Editor, ALJ).

Bell J on Sentencing and the Separation of Powers

CLANT Patron Justice Virginia Bell delivered the third biennial Tony Fitzgerald Memorial Lecture on 20 March 2014 at Darwin. In her lecture, Bell J explored recent High Court decisions (including Elias v The Queen (2013) 248 CLR 483, Bugmy v The Queen (2013) 302 ALR 192 and James v The Queen [2014] HCA 6), in which the Court has developed and applied sentencing principles in the context of the distinctively Australian doctrine of separation of powers.

If you were unfortunate enough to miss Justice Bell's Lecture, pdfhere it is.

Criminal law reform issues update: March 2014

In March 2014, the Department of the Attorney-General and Justice presented Information Sessions on current Northern Territory law reform issues.  If you missed the session conducted in your area, you can catch up by reading this presentation (reproduced by permission of DoA-G&J), adapted here to cover only criminal law reform issues and the Northern Territory Civil and Administrative Tribunal (NTCAT).

CPD: Sentencing Federal Offenders

CLANT presents a lunchtime CPD from 1 to 2 pm on 10 April 2014 at William Forster Chambers on Sentencing Federal Offenders.

Free to CLANT members (lunch provided).  And here's a bargain:  you can join CLANT at the door for just $20.

For further details, click here.

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.

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