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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…
We all have the legal right to refuse health care. Warren Goldswain

It’s your choice: how to plan for a better death

Have you thought about how you would want to be treated if you cannot make your own decisions? You may be unconscious after car accident, you may be so ill you cannot communicate, or you may be dying and…
Cases involving mental health are mostly heard in Victoria’s Supreme Court. They are complex, costly - and rare. Smith, Johnson/ Wikimedia Commons

‘Crazed killer’ headlines defy facts of crime and mental impairment

Few things cause more public alarm than the notion of the “crazed killer” walking our streets. A common figure in newspaper headlines and current affairs shows, he (occasionally she) is often accompanied…
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…
For acting on a NSW Law Reform Commission review of bail laws, Greg Smith was pilloried for having gone from ‘Rambo’ in opposition to ‘marshmallow soft’ on crime as attorney-general. Daily Telegraph

Is rational law reform still possible in a shock-jock tabloid world?

The New South Wales government’s decision to “review” and amend the new Bail Act after only one month in operation illustrates worrying trends in public policymaking relevant to all jurisdictions. It raises…
Debate surrounding the law’s response to lethal domestic violence has led to significant law reform activity over the last 20 years. AAP/Dave Hunt

Laws on lethal domestic violence should be reviewed – nationally

The law’s response to lethal domestic violence in Australia raises complex issues. It requires a delicate balance to be struck between ensuring a just response to those who kill in response to prolonged…
Who’s looking at who when drones take to the sky? Flickr/fisl quinze

Drones finally get MPs talking tougher on privacy laws

The increasing use of drone aircraft in Australia may finally lead to a long overdue change in privacy laws to protect against the use of remote eyes and ears in invasive technologies. The call for tougher…
Reforming Victorian homicide law has been a long process, but a bill introduced today is a significant step forward. AAP/Dave Hunt

Victorian homicide law reforms ensure just responses to violence

Victorian attorney-general Robert Clark today introduced a bill into parliament that repeals the offence of defensive homicide. The bill signifies a significant step forward in ensuring just responses…
Giving care leavers special access to their records might be one way to help them achieve justice, recognition and a firmer sense of belonging and community. AAP/Dan Himbrechts

Not just about abuse: records access is key to care leavers' identity

“You have the records of our abuse.” So read the placards held by protesters outside hearings of the Royal Commission and the recent Victorian parliamentary inquiry into child sex abuse. These protesters…
Responses to violence through human trafficking and slavery demand a multifaceted approach including governments, according to a new report. shutterstock

Cracking down on slavery and human trafficking in NSW

The NSW Community Relations Commission today released a report which found the NSW government is failing to adequately acknowledge or respond to reports of human trafficking and slavery. While many in…
The reason few errors are discovered is that it’s so hard to identify them. Image from shutterstock.com

Truth or lies: overturning wrongful convictions

A person is wrongly convicted of a serious crime, then fresh evidence reveals they are, in fact, innocent. It’s a thriller movie formula and you’d hope that if this were to happen, justice would prevail…
Kieran Loveridge’s sentence for the manslaughter of Thomas Kelly was well below the maximum of 25 years. So why introduce a special ‘one-punch law’? AAP/Jane Dempster

The Thomas Kelly case: why a ‘one-punch law’ is not the answer

Last July, Sydney teenager Thomas Kelly was king-hit and killed by Kieran Loveridge in a senseless act of alcohol-fuelled violence. When Loveridge pleaded guilty to manslaughter in September, expectations…
Eileen Creamer is one of just three women to be convicted of defensive homicide in Victoria. A Victorian government report has proposed abolishing the controversial law. AAP/Julian Smith

Abolishing defensive homicide will benefit female victims and offenders

The Victorian Department of Justice has released its long-awaited review into operation of the controversial offence of defensive homicide. The Consultation Paper proposes the offence’s abolition on the…
A recent spate of ‘sexting’ incidents by teenagers shows that many cyber-safety messages are not getting through. Should they be taught ‘cyber-ethics’, too? Shutterstock

Cyber-safety or cyber-maturity? Teaching ethics in a virtual world

Sexting is back in the news for all the wrong reasons. Multiple incidents of teenagers circulating explicit images of other teenagers are under investigation in Victoria. It has emerged that Queensland…
Broadcaster Derryn Hinch has been found guilty of breaching court suppression orders in the past. Does justice need to be seen in order to be truly done? AAP/Julian Smith

Seen to be done: opening access to justice in Victoria

The Victorian state parliament is currently considering the Open Courts Bill (2013) after questions have been raised about just how much transparency is needed in the justice system. The bill, proposed…
There is no legislation in place that specifically addresses elder abuse with family or carer circles. EPA/Diego Azubel

The mistreatment of older people: is it time to legislate against abuse?

The tragic case of 88 year-old Cynthia Thoresen recently made headlines in Queensland. Mrs Thoresen’s sad decline and the extent of her injuries have been comprehensively documented. Despite shocking neglect…
A Victorian parliamentary Law Reform Committee report released this week on the practice of underage ‘sexting’ recommended widespread legal changes. Shutterstock

Not just ‘safe sext’: Victorian parliamentary Law Reform Committee calls for change

I was absolutely mortified, horrified. Everyone had seen them … people would stop me in the street and recognise me. - “Helen”, aged 14 years “Sexting” (also known as “selfies” or “noodz”) refers to the…
NSW Attorney General Greg Smith (center) claims that previous laws guaranteeing the right to silence were easily exploited by criminals. AAP/Dean Lewins

When you say nothing at all: NSW and the right to silence

The right to silence when being interviewed or questioned by police would be considered a fundamental legal right by many people. But it is not a “right” you can exercise in New South Wales any more. The…
Jane Ashton successfully campaigned for the provocation defence to be abolished in Victoria after James Ramage used the defence for killing her sister Julie. AAP Image/ Brent Bignell

Murder or manslaughter? NSW ponders the provocation problem

In Parliament last week, NSW took steps towards better understanding, and potentially solving, the problems posed by the partial defence of provocation. A defence predominately used by men, provocation…

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