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OPINION: Don’t judge magistrates too harshly

MAGISTRATES see the worst side of humanity in their courtrooms every day. They see and hear things that would make most people shudder.

Their job is an unenviable one. They can never please everyone, whether it's victims of crime who feel a criminal has been let off too lightly, or the defendants who insist they have been hard done by.

Like many people, I believe the legal system in Queensland is often too soft on criminals. But we can't just point the finger and accuse our magistrates of being lenient.

There are numerous factors - which can't always be reported for legal reasons - such as criminal history, case law, and mandatory sentencing that must be taken into account.

Unless you have sat in on an entire court hearing and heard all the arguments, it's impossible to determine whether you would have come to the same conclusion.

And magistrates might be sharp-minded professionals, but they are human too. That is why we have checks and balances such as the Court of Appeal.

Our court houses are open to the public for the majority of cases.

Before you judge a magistrate for being too strict or too soft, attend a criminal hearing and put yourself in their shoes.

Topics:  judge magistrate opinion


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