For those of you ( and you are many) who have been pleading, badgering, reminding and asking me to continue posting- here is a post.
Today was a big one. We spent the whole morning working on one matter in the Magistrates’ Court, trying to arrive at a solution which would best meet the needs of the client. When I say ‘we’ I mean all the court staff; police prosecutors, court clerk, informant, magistrate and myself as defence lawyer. We were all wrestling with some archaic legislation and trying to apply it to a case that was, at the very least, somewhat unique.
It almost felt like we were working in a civil law system, and to some extent, that is how the matter progressed. Put very simply, a civil law system is generally inquisitorial: the court looks into the matter, gathers from the parties the information it requires, and then makes an order. Our Australian common law system is adversarial. The prosecution bring their case, the defence answer, and the magistrate or judge makes a decision.
My endeavour this morning was to be a constructive defence advocate. My first duty (as that of any lawyer) is to assist the court, and my second is to represent my client. The outcome reflected this endeavour. The court arrived at an order which took account of my client’s submissions, whilst setting out realistic conditions to ensure the goal would be realised. In the event we were all working for the client’s best interests, and they were served.
As you can probably tell, I am treading fairly carefully in the wake of that one severe criticism I encountered a month or so ago. As to that matter, I have related the events to my employer, colleagues, other lawyers, friends and family, and received only support for The Outback Lawyer. Many readers have related to me how great a benefit the posts have been for their own understanding of the legal system. One particular follower described how reading had removed many negative connotations about the law in general, simply because the stories explained how and why the courts worked as they did. In that same week a County Court judge in a case I was working on made extensive remarks on how important it was that the community understand the operation of the courts.
I believe that stories like this do make a difference to the public perception of the legal system. They increase public faith in the law. And because of that I intend to risk criticism, and continue writing. Please let me know immediately if you consider anything I write to be unprofessional or inappropriate.
Alternatively, if you gain from reading, I’d like your comments too!
For the vision splendid-
The Outback Lawyer.