Australia 'I am most unhappy': Judge fumes at failure to bring prisoner to court

03:00  12 february  2020
03:00  12 february  2020 Source:   theage.com.au

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If you cannot appear in Municipal Court , do as many ofthe following as soon as you can: If you are a witness and were subpoenaed or asked to appear Please keep in mind that the Judge decides how to handle each failure to appear; a Judge may issue an arrest warrant , grant you a continuance, or

a man wearing a suit and tie: A prisoner is led into court in Melbourne.© Penny Stephens A prisoner is led into court in Melbourne. A senior judge has slammed authorities for failing to bring a prisoner to court for sentencing, as the release of new figures underlines the legal profession's frustrations at the impact of Victoria's soaring prison population on hearings.

The lack of free cells at Shepparton police station on January 31 meant Corrections Victoria and police had nowhere to hold a man who was to be sentenced that day for serious sex offences from the year 2000, against three girls aged under 10.

His victims, now women in their 20s, and their supporters were at court expecting a degree of closure but were instead told that Corrections had not brought the man from prison because all the available cells were full. The Shepparton courthouse does not have a holding cell so prisoners are kept at the nearby police station.

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If you fail to show up for your appointed court date, then the court charges you with Failure to In addition to the failure to appear charge, you may also face additional consequences, such as This may be your first impression before the judge and you want to make a good impression and appear

He was brought back into the court in handcuffs during a lunch break, and he apologized to the court . Later, Margraves told reporters after social media branded him a hero: " I want to make it real clear that I am no hero, my daughters are the heroes, and (so are) the victims and the survivors of this

County Court judge Mark Taft said the incident was "unacceptable and indeed disgraceful", and showed a "complete disregard" for the victims. The judge was so incensed that he sought an explanation from the police station's senior sergeant.

"Let me make it clear I am most unhappy," Judge Taft told the senior sergeant.

"I am embarrassed by what has occurred. I have three young complainants in court. They expected a level of finality today. They will not get it because, for reasons that are in my view most difficult to understand, [the offender] has not been transported.

"This matter will be taken to the very highest level. We have a government and a police force that has pledged to do its utmost to provide justice to those who are victims of sexual abuse and particularly those who were children.

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Each prisoner is required, as part of their time in Prison, to abide by the rules laid down by the Prison Act 1952 and also to any rules or regulations that He is due to move to another prison. I am worries due to him having a long standing Brian injury and has poor short term memory and he lacks capacity.

Dear Judge (Name of the Judge ): I am writing this letter to introduce myself and to request that the court issue an order allowing me to attend court I would also like to request that the court appoint an attorney to represent me at these hearings because I am a prisoner and I am unable to afford an

"These victims are ... denied that opportunity today."

Judge Taft apologised to the women and rescheduled the sentencing to March 19.

Judge Taft's criticism comes as figures show the failure of Corrections Victoria to transport prisoners to court continues to plague the Magistrates Court of Victoria, which deals with most of the state's criminal cases.

Almost 900 prisoners were not taken to courts across the state for hearings in the seven months from July 1 last year, according to Magistrates Court figures. In most of the 878 instances, video links were organised, and a handful of prisoners were taken to court later than scheduled. However, 338 prisoners had cases adjourned because they were not taken to court.

A shortage of free cells in Magistrates Court buildings or at nearby police stations mean Corrections is regularly unable to transport prisoners for their hearings. Victoria's prison population has soared in recent years due to increased numbers of arrests, and changes to bail and parole laws.

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When you fail to appear in court you automatically violate the court order or a ticket citation When you fail to appear on a due date and time, the court charges you with Failure to Appear in Court . If your state law defines your act as a felony, you will carry your punishment in prison more than a year.

Acquittal: Judgment that a criminal defendant has not been proved guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. Jury Instructions: The guidelines given to the jury by the judge at the beginning and at the end of the trial explaining what the law is in the case and how the jurors should evaluate the evidence.

Former chief magistrate Peter Lauritsen has addressed the problem in the organisation's past six annual reports, and last year wrote it "persists".

The "non-production of prisoners", Judge Lauritsen wrote, was "a consequence of increasing numbers of persons in custody, especially on remand, and static infrastructure".

On Monday Jason Roberts had his high-profile appeal against convictions for murdering two policemen delayed because he was not taken to court on time from prison. His hearing began more than three hours late.

Barrister Daniel Gurvich, QC, the chair of the Victorian Bar Association, told The Age it was reasonable for defence lawyers and prosecutors to expect accused people on remand to be in court, and that the failure to transport them caused delays in their cases and for victims, families and witnesses.

"These are not isolated incidents, it's far too common," Mr Gurvich said.

"It affects the administration of justice in the sense that any delay is to be avoided at all costs. There is already a sufficient delay as it is."

Mr Gurvich said lawyers were often paid costs for appearing in court without clients. That money, he said, would be better directed towards getting prisoners from jail to hearings.

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A spokeswoman for the Department of Justice and Community Safety, which includes Corrections Victoria, said measures had been implemented to meet the increase in hearings for the state's growing prison population, including almost 100 new video conferencing units since 2017.

The department and police said they worked closely with the courts to try to resolve and manage the issue.

A police spokeswoman said the number of prisoners being held in police cells was currently very high, and there had been a significant rise due to increased arrests and people being held on remand, a focus on recidivist offenders, changes to parole and to bail laws.

Aside from prisoners not being transported, some refuse to leave jail and get on vans to go to court, while The Age has been told of cases where prisoners were taken to the wrong court.

Last year, murderer Peter Brown's sentence in the Supreme Court was delayed when a different prisoner with the same name was taken to court instead. Justice John Champion requested an explanation and Corrections Victoria later apologised for the error, citing mistaken identity.

A spokeswoman for the state government said it had allocated funding for 1600 new beds in cells under $1.8 billion allocated to prison infrastructure. The government had also increased video conferencing to meet the demand, she said, and funded more magistrates, judges and prosecutors.

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