I blogged recently about the awesome role Judges play in the dispensation of justice. Retired Australian High Court Judge Michael Kirby has just reiterated and properly contextualised it, with respect to wrongful convictions. Drawing on his experiences in the bench, particularly with the wrongful conviction of Andrew Mallard. He addressed these issues along with others germane to the fair dispensation of justice. The occasion was about his experiences at the bench between 1996 to 2009 at Melbourne RMIT university. Read 9news reportage of his lecture here
He touched on the quality of legal training; the public perception of the apolitical nature of judges; the divide between conservative and liberal judges. And of course, hinted of his ‘regrets’ on the Andrew Mallard case. He said ‘Maybe if I’d paid a little more attention, may be if I’d seen some of these arguments (sooner)…. he wouldn’t have had to spend a decade in prison; its something that troubles the mind’. However hard we deny it, pretend it doesn’t exist or the system can not possibly have leakages, there still remain the real possibility of it happening, no matter the jurisdiction. We must continue to work at it with an open mind. We must come to terms with it. I commend Justice Michael Kirby’s ‘statement of regret’ a fortiori to prosecutors, police officers and lawyers generally.