NICK XENOPHON M.L.C.
INDEPENDENT NO POKIES
MEMBER OF THE LEGISLATIVE COUNCIL
29 April 2004
FAMILY MEMBERS IN THREE CASES WHO HAVE LOST LOVED ONES SPEAK OUT
OF PLEA BARGAINING
PLEAD FOR JUSTICE
slammed for paying ‘lip-service’ to victims’ rights.
Move to change
law to give victims a direct say in plea bargains.
of crimes – involving the death of loved ones – will speak out today in a
bid for sweeping reforms of the plea bargaining process. And
at least one of the victims will be scathing about the Attorney-General
dismissing the proposed reforms in a letter he sent earlier this year.
media conference to be held today
in the Terrace
floor) at Parliament House will have the following ‘victims’ of the plea
bargaining system speaking out:
Anne Walsh - whose 22 year old
cousin Stacey Lee Brown was shot in the head and killed on
of the three families will speak in support of a Bill that will be introduced
into Parliament later this year by No Pokies MLC Nick Xenophon. The Bill – Victims
of Crime (Victim Participation in Plea Bargaining etc) Amendment Bill 2003
of Bill will available at media conference) provides for:
The prosecuting authority (the
DPP or the Police) to notify victims of any proposed plea bargain (including the
down-grading of charges, and the ‘agreed facts’ to be put to the Court).
The victim (or where the victim
has died – the victim’s family) has seven days to lodge a written objection
with the Prosecuting Authority setting out the details of the victim’s
objection to the plea bargain.
The DPP is then required to
respond in writing to the objection, and if the objection is not upheld the
victim has the right to appeal against the plea bargain to the Administrative
and Disciplinary Division of the District Court.
Reasonable legal costs for an
appeal are to be paid for by the State – unless the appeal is ‘frivolous or
high profile cases (including Nemer
put into sharp focus the need to reform the whole system of plea bargaining –
to give victims a real voice, a real say for the first time”.
about law and order is one thing – delivering a real sense of justice to
victims of serious offences is another. These victims have been marginalised for
too long from the whole plea bargaining process”.
draft Bill provides for clear mechanisms for victims to be informed and to be
finally empowered to be part of the plea bargaining process”.
Xenophon said that he was “bitterly
disappointed” the Attorney-General “so
easily dismissed proposed reforms that would at last give victims of crime a
real say in the plea bargaining process”.
also said that the recently released report by Solicitor-General Chris Kourakis
on the DPP’s office and plea bargains was
“welcome, but the recommendations of plea bargaining does not address the
fundamental disempowerment of victims in the current plea bargaining system.”
danger with the Solicitor-General’s proposed change to give the Attorney
General the right to intervene on advice from Crown Counsel is that such a
change could heavily politicise the plea bargaining process rather than having a
rigorous and independent process of court review in the proposed Bill.”
government’s summary dismissal of this reform package for victims is in stark
contrast with it’s rhetoric about victims’ rights.”
Xenophon has urged victims of crime dissatisfied with the plea bargaining
process to come forward in an advertisement he placed in today’s Advertiser.
“The more people that come forward with genuine grievances over the current system, the greater the chance of fundamental reform.”
Written and authorised by Nick Xenophon, 653 Lower North East Road, Paradise, SA 5075