Judiciary on Criminal Procedure Bill

Graeme Edgeler has an excellent blog post on the Criminal Procedure Bill, highlighting some of the comments from the Judiciary on it. Chief Justice Elias has oppossed parts of it very strongly, on behalf of the High Court, and Supreme Court Justices.

One of the key issues is the proposed requirement for the Defence to signify in advance what actual issues are in dispute. This is of course standard in non-criminal trials. Some say it removes the right to silence.

What find of interest, and has been reported by Derek Cheng also, is that the District Court Judges (who actually do the vast bulk of criminal trials) are not oppossed to the requirement to signify in advance what issues are in dispute. They do criticise the provisions about drawing adverse inferences from what may be a failure of counsel, but on the main issue is reported as saying:

But Judge Johnson told the committee he supported cost-orders for non-compliance, and the regime that would require the defence to disclose matters in dispute.

“It makes sense for the efficiency of the trial, and it’s not unjust,” he said.

This is in contrast to the view of Chief Justice Dame Sian Elias, who criticised the pre-trial regime as contrary to the defendants’ right not to volunteer information that may help the case against them.

It is unusual enough to have Judges commenting on laws, but very unusual to have different levels of the judiciary putting in oppossing submissions.

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