The newly-formed Murri Court will encourage innocent Aboriginal defendents to plead guilty, Green’s spokesman Drew Hutton said today.
“Aboriginal defendents who know they are innocent may choose to plead guilty and be sentenced by Murri Court rather than to stand trial in a court that they perceive to be racist,” Mr Hutton said.
The Murri Court is a recent innovation of the State Government. Aboriginal elders advise the magistrate in court on cultural matters. It is only available to Aboriginals who want to plead guilty.
The Murri Court should be extended to all Aboriginal defendents not only those who plead guilty, Mr Hutton said.
Mr Hutton said that the Greens have consulted with Kurityikin-du, an Aboriginal consultancy and dance group.
Theresa Creed of the Kurityikin-du group said that the Murri Court should be available for all Aboriginals in Court, not just those pleading guilty.
“We need to appear in a court where we feel comfortable and where our culture is understood. From the word go we have to be judged by their law,” she said.
Barrister Greg Shadbolt of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Legal Service (ATSILS) said that it does sometimes happen that innocent Aboriginal defendents want to plead guilty.
Mr Shadbolt said Aboriginals in court will often follow the path of least resistance. “If they plead guilty this keeps the police officer happy and therefore the Aboriginal is more likely to get bail,” Mr Shadbolt said.
He said ATSILS was there to ensure that innocent Aboriginal defendents who had a defence did not plead guilty.
Indigenous Queenslanders make up only 2.5% of the State’s population yet make up 25% of the State’s prison population, according to a Department of Justice website.
The Minister’s office and Senior Magistrate, Di Fingleton were contacted but they have made no comment. 300 words
The Greens put out a press release on the Murri Court on 23/8/02. I contacted Drew Hutton by phone and email. His email address is email@example.com.
Theresa Creed was harder to track down but I eventually got her number through Link-up (32550855). It is 0401174769.
Greg Shadbolt is the Acting Principal Legal Officer at Legal Aid. His phone number is 32211448.
Greg Milne is the Minister’s press secretary. I emailed him (he and the Minister were in Townsville) and he replied back asking that I contact the Senior Magistrate, Di Fingleton (ph 32474596). She has not responded (to date) to my phone calls or email. Greg’s email address is Greg.Milne@ministerial.qld.gov.au
I also tried to get comments from academics who specialise in indigenous law but only one responded.
The concept that innocent Aboriginal people will not claim their innocence to the police and courts is apparently known as “gratuitous concurrence”. I feel there is the making of a good story about this concept and it’s ramifications.
Also Susan said she wants these:-
5 contacts relevant to the round – there are 5 contacts above.
5 relevant websites:-
1. http://www.nla.gov.au/oz/gov/party.html –Australian Political Parties and Groups (National Library).
2. http://www.brisbane.qld.gov.au/council_at_work/managing_city/budget/budget_documents.shtml –Brisbane city Council Budget documents
3. http://www.politicalresources.net – World Political Resources
4. http://www.gksoft.com/govt/en/parties.html Governments on the WWW
5. http://www.aph.gov.au/hansard/index.htm Federal Hansard