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Scott Morrison has repeatedly characterised the Asylum Seeker Code of Behaviour as being necessary to protect the Australian community. AAP/Alan Porritt

Asylum seeker code is a rhetorical tool – with severe consequences

Recently, it was reported that asylum seekers are “staying indoors”, fearful of breaching the Asylum Seeker Code of Behaviour. All unauthorised maritime arrivals (UMAs) who are granted bridging visas are…
Should Australia’s High Court judges be representative of the community that their rulings affect? Should politics play a part? AAP/Lukas Coch

Appointing Australia’s highest judges deserves proper scrutiny

Late last week, the federal government appointed Geoffrey Nettle, a Victorian Court of Appeal judge, to the High Court to replace retiring justice Susan Crennan. Nettle is an excellent lawyer and his appointment…
The Productivity Commission rightly identified widespread concerns that Australia’s civil justice system is too slow, too expensive and too adversarial. shutterstock

Extra funding for legal assistance services should only be a start

The Productivity Commission raised a few eyebrows when it called for an additional A$200 million for legal assistance services to disadvantaged Australians, who are “more susceptible to, and less equipped…
A grand jury decision not to indict a police officer over the shooting death of Michael Brown has sparked protests and questions over the system’s efficacy. EPA/Michael Reynolds

Only in America: why Australia is right not to have grand juries

The idea of the grand jury is already familiar to many Australians through American television legal drama. But its profile just skyrocketed with a grand jury deciding not to indict policeman Darren Wilson…
How prevalent is the use of lethal force by police in Australia, and is a disturbing trend developing in Queensland? AAP/Dave Hunt

Shoot to kill: the use of lethal force by police in Australia

Over the weekend, Queensland police shot and killed a 51-year-old man who was allegedly armed with a knife. On Monday night, another man was shot and killed on the Gold Coast. It was the sixth Queensland…
Sarah Koenig recording Serial. Elise Bergerson

Serial breaks iTunes records – and it’s easy to see why

I have to confess I made a big mistake in not reviewing the real life whodunit podcast Serial when I listened to the first episode in October. Initially little-known, the podcast has just broken iTunes…
Plea bargaining in our criminal justice system receives far more negative than positive attention. AAP/Dave Hunt

In plea bargaining, who really gets the bargain?

Plea bargaining consistently attracts more attention than almost any other aspect of the criminal justice system. Recently, it has received more attention than usual after US District Court judge Jed Rakoff…
A carrier’s liability for damage, loss or delay of baggage is governed by a number of overarching international treaties. Adam Fagen

What to claim for lost, delayed or damaged bags on overseas flights

If you get on a plane and your baggage ends up being delayed, damaged or lost, who’s responsible: you or the airline? And what rules apply when you’re flying between different countries – even if you don’t…
A Welcome to Country ceremony opens Darwin’s new $500 million facility last month to house rising numbers of prisoners, 85% of whom are Indigenous, a grossly overrepresented group. AAP/Neda Vanovac

Justice reinvestment saves huge costs of law-and-order auctions

A number of reports, most recently Victorian and NSW crime statistics, show crime rates are falling. But as election time looms in these states, their governments' focus on tough law-and-order policies…
Ms Aladmuddin’s husband, actor George Clooney, has publicly suggested that the Marbles be returned. EPA/ Alessandro Di Meo

Lawyers look at the Elgin Marbles, but stars keep them firmly in sight

Legal star power is being deployed in the form of the very well-known London barristers, Geoffrey Robertson QC and Amal Alamuddin, in Greece’s latest attempt to have the Elgin or Parthenon Marbles returned…
Does Tony Abbott’s justification for Australian involvement in Iraq amount to a legal basis for our commitment? AAP/Dave Hunt

Australia’s military involvement in Iraq is legal – for now

The humanitarian missions by the Royal Australian Air Force in Iraq are in accordance with international law, despite a confusing statement by Iraq’s ambassador to Australia, Mouayed Saleh. But continued…
Proportionality in sentencing cannot be achieved through mandatory sentences created as a result of an overreaction to community fear and outrage. AAP/Dave Hunt

Mandatory sentences can’t deliver justice or stop one-punch killings

The Victorian government’s introduction of the Sentencing Amendment (Coward’s Punch Manslaughter and Other Matters) Bill 2014 this week has again sparked debate about the deterrence value and general utility…
Gerard Baden-Clay’s murder of his wife Allison has helped put the spectre of domestic violence firmly back in the national spotlight. How prevalent is it? AAP/Dan Peled

Out of the shadows: the rise of domestic violence in Australia

Once a hidden crime, domestic violence has in recent years emerged as a mainstream criminal justice issue in Australia. Cases such as Queensland man Gerard Baden-Clay’s murder of his wife Allison and the…
Whatever else motivates Julian Assange’s Wikileaks to use online media to break a court suppression order, it isn’t a respect for justice. AAP/Joe Castro

Not mad, bad or unusual: WikiLeaks and suppression orders

Contrary to twittering by the digerati, the Victorian Supreme Court suppression order revealed by WikiLeaks this week isn’t unprecedented. It isn’t futile, dangerous or an egregious restriction on a supposedly…
If Senator Richard di Natale were to win the federal parliament’s support for his bill to legalise euthanasia, it would probably override state bans. AAP/Lukas Coch

Explainer: could federal law end the state bans on euthanasia?

Greens senator Richard Di Natale is circulating a bill to legalise euthanasia throughout Australia, the Medical Services (Dying with Dignity) Exposure Draft Bill. The key provision permits – subject to…

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