JUDGES TO FACE MUSIC

19 Nov 2018 • Herald Sun, Melbourne (General News)
by James Dowling And Matt Johnston

THE sentencing history of judges and magistrates would be revealed under a radical Coalition plan.

Reports on judges’ sitting times, decisions overturned on appeal, time taken to rule and sentencing records would be printed every three months if the Coalition wins Saturday’s state election.

The plan, likely to ruffle feathers among legal circles and the judiciary, would also allow the public to compare sentencing between judges, courts and states.

Opposition Leader Matthew Guy said it was time judges let the facts out.

EVERY Victorian would be able to “judge their judges” by comparing their sentencing records online if Matthew Guy wins Saturday’s election.

The radical Coalition policy, likely to cause controversy among court officials and legal figures, would see a revamped Judicial Commission publish quarterly data on individual members of the judiciary.

The information exposed for public viewing would include:

SITTING times of judges and magistrates;

THE number of judgments overturned on appeal;

DECISION and sentencing records of individuals; and

TIME taken to deliver decisions.

The commission would be able to make recommendations for law changes based on the data, and recidivism rates of offenders may also be published over time.

Opposition Leader Matthew Guy said judges had been protected from scrutiny and accountability. “All Victorians must have complete confidence in our judges and courts,” Mr Guy said. “Almost every Victorian worker or small businessperson is held accountable daily for the job they do. Judges and magistrates should be no different.”

The reported data would also allow for comparisons on sentences and convictions between different courts for similar offences.

The Coalition says it would also allow the public to see how Victorian Courts sentence offenders compared to other states. Judges’ decisions are routinely published but the Coalition says the new website would be a way to better collate them.

Shadow attorney-general John Pesutto said the Coalition policy would help identify problem areas, drive reform and allow the public to be better informed.

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