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Access & Equity in the Legal System. Definitions ACCESS: the extent to which citizens can exercise their legal rights EQUITY: the degree to which citizens.

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Presentation on theme: "Access & Equity in the Legal System. Definitions ACCESS: the extent to which citizens can exercise their legal rights EQUITY: the degree to which citizens."— Presentation transcript:

1 Access & Equity in the Legal System

2 Definitions ACCESS: the extent to which citizens can exercise their legal rights EQUITY: the degree to which citizens are treated with equal fairness by the procedures and personnel of the legal system

3 Criticisms One law for the rich and one for the poor Quality of legal representation determines success more than having the “truth on your side” Law reinforces inequalities in society

4 Factors Affecting Access & Equity Cultural Social Gender This is an excellent site about all groups facing access and equity issuesexcellent site

5 Culture The personnel of the legal system (judges, lawyers solicitors, police etc) is dominated by white English speaking Anglo-Saxons The Adversarial System is largely an ORAL system – most evidence is presented orally and the parties must argue orally Non-English speakers are disadvantaged. Provision of interpreters helps but translations of legal language is imprecise. Some languages have few interpreters available (indigenous languages)

6 Culture Cultures vary in their “closeness” to the white Anglo-Saxon culture Europeans have similar values & religious background but different languages Asian immigrants may have different perceptions of authority Africans come from societies where the rule of law may not exist at all & view the legal system as an instrument of a corrupt state Aboriginal people have different non-verbal cues in communication that may be misinterpreted by judges Muslims may be prejudiced by recent events and may not respect “secular law”.

7 Culture New Anti Terror Laws are claimed by Islamic leaders to target Muslims. Read this short statement from The Ahlus Sunnah wal Jama'ah Association about Muslim attitudes to the new lawsstatement

8 Social Factors Wealth is a MAJOR determinant of access and equity because it permits the purchase of expertise that is critical to success Kerry Stokes's leading barrister, English QC Jonathan Sumption, is rumoured to be charging up to £8000 a day. Corporations are legally “individuals” but they may claim legal expenses as tax deductions which “real” people cannot – this is an inequality

9 Social Factors Education: The higher one’s education the greater the awareness of legal rights and the greater capacity to exercise them 75% of prison inmates have primary education only 2% have finished high school 6% have not completed Year 10 10% are illiterate 40% are long term unemployed

10 Social Factors Wealth & education allow some to manipulate the law The personnel of the law (judges & lawyers etc) are wealthy & educated – leading to the view that the law “looks after its own” Tony Oates was jailed by the Supreme Court for asset stripping the Bond Corporation but was free after 48 hours because of time already served (2 years) in Poland & AustraliaOates

11 Social Factors Gender: The legal system is male dominated Economic circumstances are lower for women than men. This is caused by pay differences, more leave to raise families etc– women earn 85% of the income men earn. This reduces access to expensive legal options. Women are dissuaded to greater extent than men by the combative, intimidating and harrowing adversarial trial – especially regarding sexual offences

12 Social Factors Gender attitudes and the law… A male South Australian judge, Bollen J, said in R v Johns a married woman could expect “rougher than usual handling” as part of her sexual relationship with her husband (see bottom of page 6 of this link to see Justice Bollen’s ratio) link A Victorian judge said a prostitute who was raped would suffer less trauma than other women Look here and here for what the Australian Law Reform Commission found about the law and womenhere

13 Social Factors Gender cont’d… Robyn Greenburg = 17 years jail for defrauding clients of $37 million Alan Bond = 4 years (appealed by prosecution to 7 years) jail for $1.2 billion fraud See the Parliamentary Committee’s investigation of the above (read only 1.29)Parliamentary Committee’s

14 Attitudes of Members of the Legal System Youth perceptions of treatment by police In a survey of young people… Most thought they were fairly treated by police (68% metro, 60% rural). About 20% - 26% thought the police treated them unfairly. Many (35%) younger drivers (16 to 18 years) thought they were unfairly treated by police. Source: Royal Automobile Association of South Australia

15 Attitudes of Members of the Legal System Check here (scan straight to the Summary of Findings p 36) to find out about police attitudes to young peoplehere

16 Geographical Location Australia is a vast, sparsely habited land Courts travel “on circuit” but costs and delays are inevitable See here for the NSW Law Foundation report on geographical isolationhere

17 Aboriginal People Aboriginal People are a disadvantaged group in the legal system Read this to find about the factors that contribute to aboriginal legal problems. This is a document written by Mick Dodson 1996 ATSIC Social Justice Commissionerthis Read this (scan straight to the conclusion on page 275) to find out about Aboriginal children and the lawthis

18 People with Disabilities Andrew Mallard was falsely convicted for murder. He suffers bipolar disorder.Andrew Mallard Vivian Solon is an Australian citizen of Philippine background. She was deported to the Philippines as an illegal immigrant. She suffers from a paranoid psychotic condition.Vivian Solon Cornelia Rau is a permanent Australian resident of German background. She was wrongfully detained in an immigration detention centre. She suffers from schizophrenia.Cornelia Rau

19 Review Return to this site and browsethis site

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