A Day In Court In ‘Keeping Aboriginal And Torres Strait Islander People Out Of Custody’ By Chris Cunneen And David Mc Donald

974 words - 4 pages

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 replied that the accused was taking a strong concoction of medicinal drugs that caused him to enter a very heavy sleep and that he simply ‘slept in’.

Magistrate Rozencwajg was not satisfied with this answer and spoke very abruptly, loudly and rudely to duty lawyer, belittling her and laughing at the absurdity of the reason. The duty lawyer was visibly uncomfortable and responded very quietly with with ‘yes your Honour’, and ‘no your Honour’ whenever she was spoken to. In comparison to that, when the Informant was spoken to, he would reply loudly and did not appear to feel uncomfortable under Magistrate Rozencwaig.

Magistrate Rozencwaig was very sarcastic in his ruling, stating that had he himself not been late to Court on that day, then he would not have been so lenient and allowed bail for the defendant. He continued his sarcastic dialogue by stating that the defendant slept in at the cost of the taxpayers and the government.

Magistrate Rozencwaig made point to the fact that Victorian prisons had an over-representation of Indigenous offenders within the institutions. Magistrate Rozencwaig believed an intervention strategy would be of benefit to the defendant.

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