Free CPD by Gray J - Post 'Bugmy' sentencing

CLANT and NAAJA host free CPD on 28th November 2013 at 6pm in the Family Law Registry, Darwin, and selected regional centres by video-link. Registration is essential - contact Will Crawford at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Judge Gray CPD

Alcohol Protection Orders: more bad law?

Clients of Aboriginal legal services will bear the brunt of the NT Government's proposed new Alcohol Protection Orders. NAAJA and CAALAS have responded with pdfa letter to Chief Minister Giles urging him not to proceed with the Bill, which, if enacted, will have the effect of criminalising many people for suffering from the health problem of alcohol abuse.

Woody, you're a legend!

CLANT enthusiastically joins the chorus acclaiming the announcement that CLANT member David Woodroffe has been named as the 2013 Indigenous Legal Professional of the Year.  Woody has worked tirelessly for Aboriginal Legal Services in both the Kimberley, and up and down the track in the Territory, for many years.  As NAAJA Chairperson Michael Petterson puts it, "He is truly an ALS legend".

Sharman Stone MP presented the award on behalf of the Commonwealth Attorney-General at the Eighth National Indigenous Legal Conference/CAALAS 40th Birthday Ball.  This is what Dr Stone said:

The winner of this award was a standout nominee – he has demonstrated dedication to both championing the rights of indigenous Australians in a legal context and providing exceptional legal representation and advice over a long period of time.  He has demonstrated strong leadership in managing a busy criminal law practice, with a client-base spread across the top end and often in remote areas.  He is known for his commitment to ensuring that his clients receive the best possible legal representation. He has also demonstrated commitment to the ongoing professional development of his team members and himself.  He has shown rare dedication and commitment in a sector renowned for its considerable challenges.  I would like to warmly congratulate the 2013 National Indigenous Legal Professional of the Year, Mr David Woodroffe.

Sex offences & Restorative Justice Seminar

Practitioners are invited to attend a video screening at the Darwin Commonwealth Law Courts on 28 November 2013 at 4.00 pm of an AIJA Seminar on the potential for restorative justice alternatives to the criminal justice system for certain types of sexual assault cases – most notably historic/family cases and so-called "date gone wrong" cases, which frequently result in acquittals. The Panel in this Melbourne Q & A session moderated by Damien Carrick, presenter of ABC RN's "The Law Report", will feature legal experts including the Hon Justice Marcia Neave AO of the Victorian Court of Appeal.

At the 2011 AIJA criminal justice conference, Neave J presented an important paper on this topic, which was also addressed in this paper given by Huggett DCJ at the 2013 CLANT confernce.

For further details, including how to register to attend the Seminar, read pdfthis Notice.

Criminal law reform issues update: October 2013

In October 2013, 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 pdfthis presentation (reproduced by permission of DoA-G&J), adapted here to cover only criminal law reform issues.

The CLANT AGM: new blood on the Committee

On 23 August 2013, CLANT conducted well-attended AGMs for 2011/12 and 2012/13.  The pdfPresident's Report detailed the challenges and achievements of the last two years, and we were pleased to report a $33,000 increase (before tax) in our assets over the 24 months to 30 June 2013.  A Committee consisting mainly of new members was elected from a mix of prosecution, defence and policy backgrounds.

FASD Conference: 19 - 20 November, Brisbane

Here is pdfan Invitation to a Conference regarding Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders (FASD),  the leading preventable cause of non-genetic, developmental disability in Australia. As an issue with major implications in both health and law, the conference has incorporated a Criminal Justice workshop, to be held on the 19th of November. The workshop aims to stimulate the discussion of FASD in a legal context, and is the first one of its kind in the Australasian region.

For more information about FASD, read this Factsheet: "Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders: the hidden disability".

Chief Minister confronts domestic violence

In pdfthis letter, CLANT applauds Northern Territory Chief Minister Giles for his powerful and passionate stance against domestic violence, and urges him to establish a Domestic and Family Violence Death Review Unit.

Hilary Hannam CM

CLANT farewells Northern Territory Chief Magistrate Hilary Hannam, who has vacated one bench to take up a position on another: the Parramatta Registry of the Family Court.  We wish Ms Hannam well, and thank her for her service in what is widely regarded as one of the more thankless jobs in our beleaguered justice system. 

On 17 July 2013, shortly before her departure, Ms Hannam delivered this paper to the Australian Institute of Judicial Administration conference on Indigenous Justice.  Her Honour's paper is a characteristically pugnacious and persuasive critique of recent changes in our justice system, and well worth reading.  Significantly, in her paper Ms Hannam expresses concern at "the overarching trend of removing [judicial] discretion", echoing themes developed by Chief Justice Trevor Riley in his pdfKeynote Address to the 2013 CLANT Conference.

At her farewell function hosted by the Chief Justice, Ms Hannam spoke warmly of her time in the Territory, and also made the following remarks:

I do stand behind my uncompromising approach to the things that matter, such as the quality of justice being delivered by the Magistrates Court, the independence of the Court and the importance of the Magistrates Court to rule of law in the Territory. I also stand by the uncompromising approach I have taken to the rights of the most vulnerable in our society, being children and in expressing my disappointment in the failure of some to rely on extensive and sound evidence and research about what works and doesn’t work in the criminal justice system. I also hold an uncompromising view that it is more difficult now for Magistrates to be able to have the kind of impact that I believe the community expects us to have in the area of criminal justice, than was the case three years ago.

To which CLANT rejoins: Hear, Hear!

Junk the skunk!

In 2011, 23 synthetic cannabinoids with unpronounceable names were added to Schedule 2 of the Misuse of Drugs Act.  On 1 August 2013, Regulations commenced by force of which a further 19 even more unpronounceable substances have been added to the list.  Be warned: as of 6 August 2013, these freshly prohibited substances have not been incorporated into the on-line versions of the Misuse of Drugs Act.

Let's talk about the Serious Sex Offenders Act

Before the enactment of the Serious Sex Offenders Act 2013 (NT), which  commenced on 1 July 2013, CLANT criticised the Bill, and we have also posted on this site criticism of legislative schemes for preventive detention by Professor Bernadette McSherry and forensic psychiatrist Dr Olav Nielssen.

Bernadette McSherry and Patrick Keyzer have recently published a further article reporting on interviews with 86 of the professionals responsible for the administration of Australian statutory schemes of this type: "The Preventive Detention of 'Dangerous' Sex Offenders in Australia: Perspectives at the Coalface" (International Journal of Criminology and Sociology, 2013, 2, 296-305).

In March 2013, the Law Society Northern Territory delivered its own comments on  the Bill to the Northern Territory Attorney-General, and we now publish, by permission, pdfJohn Elferink's response, which, we respectfully note, is a detailed, carefully argued and well considered defence of this contentious piece of legislation.  CLANT remains unconvinced, but we appreciate the opportunity to report on and take part in this serious discussion.

Meanwhile, in Attorney-General of the Northern Territory v EE [2013] NTSC 35, the Supreme Court of the Northern Territory has for the first time considered and construed the Act.

It's (AGM) Time!

The 2011/12 and 2012/13 CLANT Annual General Meeting, including the election of the 2013-15 Committee, will be held on 23 August 2013 at 5.30 pm at NAAJA, 61 Smith Street, Darwin.  All members are welcome.  Here are the meeting papers:

Criminal law reform issues update

In July 2013, 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 pdfthis presentation (reproduced by permission of DoA-G&J), adapted here to cover only criminal law reform issues.  Some of them have previously been ventilated, but practitioners may be particularly interested in the section headed Reforms of criminal procedures in the lower courts (pp 30-38).

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