Focus group on forensic science issues (Wed, 16 Oct)

Anna Davey, who many of you will know, has facilitated a number of forensic science/medicine presentations to the criminal bar, has offered DNA training workshops for the last two years, and conducted expert witness training workshop (in which many members of the Bar have assisted) for many years. Anna is also undertaking a part-time PhD at Monash. The initial working title of the PhD was “Developing effective partnerships between persons with specialised knowledge (experts) and the legal system”, however it has recently been amend to “An examination of the role of education and/or training as a mechanism to enhance the use, reception and effectiveness of scientific expert evidence in criminal trials in Australia.”

As part of this study Anna needs to interview a range of experienced experts and advocates. The research tool she is using is similar to a focus group but is more structured and is very efficient at ‘exacting’ information from the participants in a relatively painless / non-threatening fashion! It is called “World Cafe” ( Ethics approval for this research has been obtained from Monash University Human Research Ethics Committee

So far she has conducted these focus groups and collected data from approximately 150 scientists but needs to balance this with data from advocates/legal practitioners.

She is therefore extending an invitation for you to participate in one of these groups on Wednesday 16th October at 4.30 in the Essoign Club. The session will go for a maximum of one hour and drinks and nibbles will be supplied. Once analysed all the results will be made available to the participants.

If anyone is interested in participating but cannot make it on the 16th she would love to hear from you. Her e-mail is

Liberty Victoria Annual Dinner (Sat 12 Oct)

The Liberty Dinner will be held on Saturday 12 October 2013 at the San Remo Ballroom in Carlton North.

Our own Jane Dixon SC is the current President of Liberty, and many others from our ranks are either on the committee or members of Liberty.  They would love to see some more CrimBar members coming along to enjoy what promises to be a great night.  Comedian Corrine Grant, comedian, will be MCing events, there will be a presentation of the Voltaire Award to Arnold Zable for his outstanding contribution to free speech, ARIA award winning singer Kavisha Mazella will be performing, and there will be an auction of a number of items generously donated by sponsors.

For further details go to

2013 AGM (Wed, 30 October)

Our AGM will be held in the Neil McPhee Room (window end), Level 1, ODCE on Wednesday, 30 October 2013 at 5:15pm.

Please click here for the 2013 AGM Notice and attachments (Notice of the AGM, minutes of the last AGM, a report on our activities and the financial statements) which will be received at the meeting.  Also attached to the notice are nomination and proxy forms in relation to the elected positions on the committee.  Nominations are due in by 5pm on Wednesday, 23 October 2013.

We look forward to a good showing of members both in terms of nominations and attendance.  Drinks will follow at the Essoign Club.

CPD tonight – Interpretation of Forensic Reports

Wednesday, 25 September 2013 and 1>arny freitag

Interpretation of Forensic Reports – a word of caution
Speaker(s): Dr Morris O’Dell, Senior Forensic Physician, Victorian Institute of Forensic Medicine; Chair: Michael Cahill
Interpretation of Forensic Reports
1 CPD point: Professional Skills / Substantive Law
Time: 5.30pm – 6.30pm
Where: Neil McPhee Room, Level 1, Owen Dixon Chambers East, 205 William St, Melbourne

CPD: ATS and poly drug use as a driver of social harm (16 Sept)

Speaker(s): Cate Quinn, Manager, Drug Branch, Victorian Forensic Science Centre

Monday, 16 September 2013, 5.15pm – 6.15pm

Neil McPhee Room, Level 1, Owen Dixon Chambers East, 205 William St, Melbourne

Cate began her scientific career as a beer flavour analyst for Carlton United Breweries determining product (beer) quality, moving into the field of Forensic Drug Analysis in 1986 when she commenced work at the Victoria Forensic Science Centre.
Throughout a 25 year career she has specialised in drug work undertaking forensic analysis of blood alcohol samples, general drug analysis, clandestine laboratory crime scene & analysis and the initiation and development of the Chemical Drug Intelligence unit.

Currently Cate holds the position of Manager Drug Branch where she is responsible for ensuring the delivery of all non-coronial forensic drug services to Victoria Police and the Justice System. In addition, a large portion of her time and energy is dedicated to the development of the Chemical Drugs Intelligence project which focuses upon the application of forensic drug intelligence data for Law Enforcement and Health Services concerned with research into drug trends and emerging problem areas.
Major projects and research undertaken by Cate include the study of THC levels in Victorian cannabis seizures, the National Working Group on precursor chemicals, Expert Scheduling Committee looking at national drug legislation and the clandestine laboratory national database, international Working Group – drug standards and guidelines (SWGDRUG)

No time to lose in tackling the aid funding crisis

follow url IN June, the federal government commissioned a Productivity Commission inquiry into access to justice arrangements.

The Law Council of Australia welcomes the government’s initiative, with one reservation.

While the title and the bulk of the terms of reference are about access to justice generally, the introductory paragraph refers to “civil dispute resolution”. In principle and in practical research terms, excluding the criminal justice system would make no sense.

The Productivity Commission’s powers probably allow it to do the whole job, but preferably this should be clarified.

This will be the most important inquiry into the justice system since the Henderson report on law and poverty in 1975.

Legal aid is in crisis. The table published recently in these pages showed that in all Australian jurisdictions except NSW (although it too is likely to change), legal aid will no longer be granted to people facing criminal charges in magistrates courts unless the person is likely to go to jail.

Magistrates courts in Victoria alone deal with about 173,000 criminal cases a year, a partial indication of the systematic nationwide injustice resulting from the choking of legal aid funding.

Keep in mind that in order to be eligible for legal aid in the first place, people are subject to stringent means tests. In four states, some people who fall below the Henderson poverty line are excluded by legal aid means tests.

The federal government had a “road to Damascus” moment about equality before the law in the early 1970s. Then attorney-general Lionel Murphy told parliament he would establish an Australian Legal Aid Office and that “the government’s aim is that eventually no person anywhere in Australia should suffer injustice because of the unavailability of legal aid advice or inability to afford the cost of representation in court proceedings”.

Federal government funding for Legal Aid Commissions sat at 55 per cent for the next several decades until cuts imposed by the Howard government in 1997 reduced The effects of those cuts have flowed through to Legal Aid Commission funding ever since. They have led to the tightening of means tests, stricter tests on the merits of legally aided cases, rationing of grants for representation of children in Family Court cases and, more recently, no legal aid for people facing criminal offences in magistrates courts, unless jail is likely.

The Law Council has called on the parties in tomorrow’s federal election to commit to three policy objectives:

Develop a national partnership agreement with the states and territories based on national goals, as distinct from commonwealth or state goals.

Restore funding to legal aid commissions to a 50 per cent (up from 35 per cent) share on a constant per capita basis. In the 2013-14 budget, this would  require an additional $76.2 million.

Make the commonwealth increase conditional on the states and territories maintaining their funding levels.

The last two federal budgets have acknowledged the depth of the crisis and made modest but welcome increases in the government’s contribution to Legal Aid Commission funding so that its share now sits at 35 per cent.

Attorney-General Mark Dreyfus has committed to further increases. The opposition spokesman on legal affairs, George Brandis, has acknowledged the problems but said that “the Coalition cannot commit to increase funding for legal aid services, nor can we stipulate a proportion of total legal assistance funding that will be provided by the federal government. The Coalition’s first priority, if elected, will be to secure Australia’s future prosperity by getting the budget back under control.”

The Greens have committed to an increase to the 50 per cent level on a fully costed platform.

Equality before the law is too important an issue to be left at the margins of policymaking. That is why the reference to the Productivity Commission promises so much.

It will bring home to governments and to the electorate the extent of the crisis. Its economic expertise is also welcome.

The Law Council’s research shows that rigorous cost-benefit analysis repays the investment in legal assistance many times over.

David Neal SC is a Melbourne barrister and a member of the Law Council’s access to justice committee.

The County Court has issued and amendment to the current criminal practice directions. It affects both prosecutors and defence counsel and takes effect on 9 September 2013. Essentially, both parties are now obliged to provide written submissions and other documents according to specified deadlines before a plea hearing.

CPD: A-G on legislative changes (Thurs 12 Sept)

opzioni digitali azioni The State Government’s program for legislative changes in the criminal law

Speaker(s): Hon opciones binarias en linea Robert Clark MP, Attorney General

1 CPD point:  Substantive Law
Time:  5.15pm – 6.15pm
Where:  Neil McPhee Room, Level 1, Owen Dixon Chambers East, 205 William St, Melbourne

ينظم الخيارات الثنائية وسطاء كندا We strongly recommend you attend this event to hear this important update from the Attorney-General


Suspended sentences no more in higher courts

Suspended sentences (wholly or partially) are no longer available in the higher courts (any court other than the Magistrates’ Court) for offences committed on or after 1 September 2013. Governor Chernov proclaimed the commencement of the amendment to section 27 of the Sentencing Act 1991 on 13 August 2013.

Remand / Gaol Orders frustrated

Recently, problems have occurred with remandees and sentenced prisoners not being brought to the Magistrates’ Court for their appearance. This has occurred even for planned fixtures, which is very concerning. If you have encountered problems due to your client not being brought to court, please email Michelle Mykytowycz outlining the problem. We will raise these issues with the Court, police and Corrections.

Vicbar ID cards

Some members have reported increasing difficulties using their VicBar ID card to enter prisons. Please email Simon Moglia if you encounter this and outline what seems to be the problem. We will raise these issues with the Bar who are considering whether and how to upgrade the card.

Funding drought limits assistance manuali opzioni binarie pdf torrent THE national shortage of legal aid funding means independent legal advice is not being provided to those facing criminal charges in magistrates courts unless they are likely to go to prison or can demonstrate special circumstances.

Research by the Law Council of Australia has found that the only exception is NSW, which has a more generous test that makes legal aid available if prison is “an available penalty”.

In other states, the “special circumstances” provision is normally applied in a way that means the applicant must suffer from a disability that is so serious it precludes self-representation, the Law Council found.

Melbourne silk David Neal SC, who is on the Law Council’s access to justice committee, said the research showed that the idea that all Australians enjoyed equality before the law was “just a lie”.

“A large part of the problem is the withdrawal of the commonwealth from proper funding for legal aid commissions,” Mr Neal said.

But the state governments shared responsibility for the problem because many of them were sending increasing numbers of serious matters to the lower courts and were creating new offences.

He said the federal government currently funded about 35 per cent of the national legal aid bill and this needed to return to at least 50 per cent.

He also believed the national partnership agreement between the commonwealth and the states on legal assistance should set a standard so that anyone facing criminal charges should be provided with legal aid, regardless of whether the offence could result in a prison term.

“A criminal conviction can have life-destroying consequences,” Mr Neal said.

“In Victoria alone, the Magistrates Court deals with 178,000 criminal cases per year, so the vastness of the injustice is reflected in that number.”

Those who were denied legal aid in the magistrates courts because they might not be at risk of prison were confronted by professional prosecutors and there was a clear “inequality of arms”.

Mr Neal said Attorney-General Mark Dreyfus had recognised the importance of legal aid funding and had increased the commonwealth’s contribution.

“But it is still sitting on about 35 per cent and it should be 50 per cent,” he said.

“We want a commitment from both major parties to bring the commonwealth commitment to 50 per cent,” he said.

He urged the Coalition to make a firm commitment – as the Greens have done – that they would return federal funding of legal aid to 50 per cent of the national bill.

Children in Court

The Bar is establishing a panel of volunteers willing to give pro bono advice to child witnesses giving evidence against a parent. A Child Witness advice kit has been developed for volunteers to make the process as streamlined as possible. All barristers are encouraged to join this panel. There was CPD on the topic on Tuesday 20 August 2013 by Judge Pullen and Magistrate Chambers which discussed this and other issues arising for vulnerable witnesses. If you would like to join this panel, please email Jacqueline Stone:

John McArdle QC

With great sadness the Criminal Bar Association mourns the death last Saturday of member John McArdle QC.  John was lovely man and contributed very much to the Bar during the 43 years he practised. 

Requiem Mass will be celebrated at The Sacred Heart Church, 116 Cotham Road, Kew, tomorrow, Wednesday 21 August 2013 at 11am.


CPD: DNA analysis (Mon 19 Aug)

Speaker(s): Dr Henry Roberts
DNA Analysis & Interpretation – Comparison on SPURS and STR mix

1 CPD point:  Professional Skills / Substantive Law
Time:  5.15pm – 6.15pm
Where:  Neil McPhee Room, Level 1, Owen Dixon Chambers East, 205 William St, Melbourne

VLRC Consultation: Mental impairment and fitness

The Victorian Law Reform Commission has released a Consultation Paper on the Crimes (Mental Impairment and Unfitness to be Tried) Act 1997. It includes more than 100 questions about the operation of the Act and how it might be reformed. A group of CBA members met on 30 July to discuss a CBA submission, which is due by 23 August. If you have an interest or wish to contribute to the submission, please contact Simon Moglia.

Legal Aid Matters

As you may be aware, on Thursday last week the Victorian Bar and the LIV launched a petition on calling on the attorneys (and shadow attorneys) at both Federal and State level to make a commitment to legal aid.

Our ‘Legal Aid Matters’ petition has now reached over 700 signatures in just four days, and we’re hoping to reach at least 5,000 signatures before the Federal Election on September 7.

This is a significant issue for our members with the cuts to funding and the subsequent tightening of Legal Aid guidelines impacting heavily on equal access to justice for thousands of disadvantaged people. 

I urge you to go to the on-line petition and add your voice to the cause:

Click this link to support increased funding for legal aid by signing the petition.

Get further information at:

If you need any further information, please feel free to contact the Sally Bodman at the Bar Office on 

New CBA website

Welcome to our new website. Over the next few days it will fill quickly with new material and all the archives from the old site. We have adopted a ‘blog’ format for this site, which means more members of the committee will be able to add updates faster than ever. Thanks for your patience.

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