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Leaked memo raises concerns about justice sys -

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EMMA ALBERICI: A leaked memo has slammed the state of the justice system on Cape York Peninsula,
describing cases conducted at "warp speed" clocking in at an average of eight and a half minutes.

The memo to the Queensland Government foreshadows the findings of a review by Peter Davis SC,
commissioned after the Aurukun gang rape case.

There was an international outcry after the nine young men involved escaped jail, and an appeal is
underway. Peter Davis' memo says junior officers are conducting important cases in a culture where
lawyers agree on a sentence and judges comply.

He also raises serious concerns about a lack of trials and an abundance of sentences on the Cape.

That's prompted the Queensland Law Society's Sean Reidy to question whether people are pleading
guilty to crimes they haven't committed.

Sean Reidy is speaking here to Annie Guest in Brisbane.

ANNIE GUEST: Sean Reidy is a criminal lawyer who represents the Queensland Law Society. He is also
intimately aware of the issues raised in the leaked memo.

SEAN REIDY: Completely unsurprising. I think that the problems in Cairns have been bubbling along
for some period of time.

ANNIE GUEST: Sean Reidy advised the prosecutor in the Aurukun Nine case who was condemned for not
seeking jail terms for the young men and boys convicted of raping a 10-year-old girl.

Sean Reidy also previously employed the judge, Sarah Bradley. She was roundly criticised for the
non-custodial sentences. But he says the leaked memo is incontrovertible.

After reviewing justice on the Cape, Peter Davis SC has written to the Queensland Government saying
resources are so stretched, junior offices are running cases.

He says he's surprised a disaster like the Aurukun Nine case hasn't happened before. On that day,
20 cases were heard in seven hours.

In the Magistrates' Court, cases get an average of eight and a half minutes.

SEAN REIDY: That's mind boggling and it's of ... sausage factory dimensions. You just cannot deliver
an equitable justice system with that sort of consideration.

ANNIE GUEST: Well in terms of consideration, Peter Davis SC says that it's his opinion that in the
Aurukun Nine case because of the limited resources, limited time that a culture had developed where
there was an understanding between lawyers on both sides of the case about the sentence and that
the judge, would then go along with it?

SEAN REIDY: Look I don't particularly want to comment on the Aurukun Nine case because it's before
a court, what I can do is comment generally. I think that Mr Davis has as a general matter ...
identified a real problem.

ANNIE GUEST: He says that on the Cape there are no trials, just sentence after sentence, after
sentence. How does that compare to the judicial system elsewhere in Queensland?

SEAN REIDY: Well it just seems to be completely out of step. It is a major blip on the radar of
what is normal. It needs to ... the possibly disturbing conclusion that people are pleading guilty to
things they might not have done.

ANNIE GUEST: But the Premier Anna Bligh defends Queensland's justice system. In particular, she's
coy about the reported average of eight and a half minutes per Magistrates' Court case on Cape York
Peninsula

ANNA BLIGH: Well that's not necessarily the case in every circumstance.

ANNIE GUEST: The Premier has moved to reassure her constituents in the wake of the leaked memo.

ANNA BLIGH: We can feel very confident about the quality of justice in Queensland. But I don't
think it's a surprise to anybody that's servicing the most remote parts of the planet, is going to
from time to time present challenges, and that's why we're in there having a very good look at it.

ANNIE GUEST: The Queensland Government recently announced more money and a review.

ANNA BLIGH: The Department of Justice and the Attorney-General has currently undertaken some work
about resourcing needs in the Cape. You'd be aware we've put some additional funds into this year's
Budget to resource the DPP (Director of Public Prosecutions). Those additional funds we need to
make good decisions about where they go.

EMMA ALBERICI: Queensland Premier Anna Bligh ending that report from Annie Guest in Brisbane.