Tuesday, 22 March 2011

Summary Case Conference Service Charter

The Victoria Police website says that Summary Case Conferencing is now going on at sittings of the Magistrates' Court across the state.

This Summary Case Conference Service Charter commits the police to the following pledges:

  • At all main metropolitan courts an ‘at court’ service will be available between 9.00am and 1.00pm.

  • Between 2.00pm and 4.00pm the Summary Case Conference ('SCC') prosecutor will be contactable by telephone.

  • All main metropolitan courts will provide an exclusive Victoria Legal Aid SCC service between 11.00am and 11.30am to deal with accused who have sought assistance for the first time that day.

  • If unable to to be contacted, the SCC prosecutor will return any communication (in person, phone, e-mail) before 1.00pm the next business day.

  • SCC prosecutors will provide a copy of the preliminary brief to the accused or their legal representative upon request, in areas supported by Brief and Investigation Support Centres.

  • Withdrawals will not be delayed only to obtain informant approval.

I couldn't find any information about which Magistrates' Court locations are now 'supported by Brief and Investigation Support Centres'. A lot of this stuff is probably aspirational. I would be interested to know how much of it reflects what is actually happening at courts.


The Quiet Achiever said...

This is not so much aspireational as fictional!!

Anonymous said...

Prosecutors available at court at 9am! I would like to see that!! At Dandenong,Frankston and Ringwood Courts the SCC prosecutor is lucky to at court before 9.20am at the earliest! Some Prosecutors can be very helpful and are keen to resolve matters and agree on summaries so that they matters can be pleaded to on the day. Other prosecutors are obstructionist will not make any effort to negotiate charges or summaries and as soon as you raise an issue they going running to the court co-ordinatior to get a contest mention date. It really is a personality driven system that when it works it can save lots of court time. There needs to be a consistent approach to negotiations.

Melbourne Lawyer said...

I can only really speak about Melbourne and Sunshine but I'm lucky to get somebody to pick up the phone.

As for getting a call back...that would be nice.

Suburban Solly said...

"Between 2.00pm and 4.00pm the Summary Case Conference ('SCC') prosecutor will be contactable by telephone"

Why does everthing stop at 4.00pm? Many times I have been in court all day get back to the office and try to contact a Prosecutors Office at say 4.15 and the phone either rings out or the person I need to speak to has gone home! It really is a hopeless service!

Anonymous said...

Aspirational indeed! no prosecutors available at Melbourne Mag before 9.30am, even though they are behind a locked door. Although, very responsive by phone and email.
hasn't the 'reform' been reduced to filling in a form, and adjourning it off?

Dr Manhattan said...

This post has prompted some intense responses! Thanks to everyone who has contributed so far. Several comments about police prosecutors note issues with their,

a) consistency of approach; and
b) availability at times when practitioners want to speak to them.

Does anyone have suggestions on how these problems could be fixed?

The DPP said...

A healthy democracy needs independent prosecutors.
Independence of action in turn requires the prosecutor to be accountable for his or her conduct. Court work is done in public, where the media and anyone else may observe. It is scrutinised and tested by the judicial officer, jury, defence representative, and individuals involved.
Using Police to prosecute their own cases fails the independence test.

Anonymous said...

Perhaps if we had consistent defence counsel then we could also clone consistent prosecutors.
Call back and courtesy? Perhaps counsel should head to the country and see how things are done!