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Monday, 18 April 2011

Childrens' Court rulings now on AustLII

I'm not sure when this happened but there is now a Childrens' Court of Victoria icon at AustLII. The cases are both criminal prosecutions and child protection applications, with identifying features suitably anonymonised.



Judge Grant and Magistrate Power (previously mentioned here) are the two most frequent contributors, but other magistrates' decisions are presented as well.



Some cases provide handy starting points for research of issues particular to the Childrens' Court. The case of Herald & Weekly Times v AB [2008] VChC 3 is a thorough exploration of considerations for and against an application to publicly name an accused child under s 534 of the Children, Youth and Families Act 2005. Likewise, Victoria Police v CB [2010] VChC 3 cites useful authorities on whether a matter should be determined in the Childrens' Court or a child committed for trial in the County Court.



Over in the criminal division of the Magistrates' Court it seems only Magistrate Garnett releases his judgments for public scrutiny. The decision of Hemingway v Hamilton [2011] VMC 10 probably made it into the paper because of the on-line publication. (Despite a game attempt by the media to keep the story going there's nothing surprising in the decision).



If Magistrate Garnett keeps publishing his decisions he'll soon be the most quoted magistrate in Victoria - apart from Magistrate Crisp, of course.

4 comments:

Jeremy Gans said...

Any idea why the release of judgments is a matter for choice by each magistrate? Why not put them all online?

Elucubrator said...

Most probably because not all magistrates provide written reasons, and of those that do, only some of their reasons are reduced to writing. And then, some are merely factual findings and primarily only of interest to the immediate parties.

Dr Manhattan said...

True. But that begs the question why some magistrates provide written reasons and others don't. While personal preference is the obvious answer, I'm not sure it's a good one.

Byrne J said in Shu Zhang v West Sands Pty Ltd [2010] VSC 36 [at 15],

It has been said again and again that the duty of a judicial officer is to provide adequate reasons for the orders made. This is particularly the case where the orders are made following a contested trial. This was a relatively long contested trial of substantial claims. What may be adequate reasons in a given case will depend upon the circumstances, having regard to the purposes for the giving of reasons. These purposes are to inform the parties why and how the result was arrived at and to inform any appeal court what were the contentions of the parties, what were the facts as found, what were the principles of law relied upon and how these principles were applied. A further reason is the fact that it is often useful for the judicial officer to set out his or her reasoning process as a discipline to ensure that this process was in fact undertaken and that it was intellectually satisfactory.

Jeremy Gans said...

According to today's Age online, Hemimingway v Hamilton has been appealed to the Supreme Court. Amazing.