[Commentary] The Credibility Deficit of Victoria’s Courts

Quadrant Online

January 3, 2021

By David Ward

State institutions have good and bad pandemics like war correspondents have good and bad wars. The lockdown came at a convenient time for Victoria’s criminal courts, where jury trials quietly resumed last month. It allowed the unresolved questions about the state’s judicial leadership to be shuffled down the priority line, south of the interim settings and subject to operational requirements. The problem for the courts is that applying the law correctly is generally regarded as an operational requirement. It’s a problem because the courts are operating again and the questions are still unresolved.

You wouldn’t necessarily have known it from the analysis but George Pell’s High Court appeal was decided on the facts, law and “judicial method”. That’s extraordinary, and the divergence between the state and national court on all three was clear-cut and irreconcilable. There was no disputing which authority prevailed, nor where the corrections had to be made, and seen to be made. That was in April.

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