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Murphy - the next trial

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The public assertion by the Premier of New South Wales of Mr Justice Murphy's innocence of a charge of which the Court of Appeal of New South Wales has held that a jury could convict him, and of which the Court of Appeal has ordered a

new trial, and the widespread repitition of that assertion by the media, is a deep affront to the administration of justice.

No-one would deny that it would be quite wrong for public assertions to be made that Mr Justice Murphy was guilty. It is equally wrong to make public assertions of his innocence.

Both the Prosecution, which represents the interests of the public in ensuring that the guilty are convicted and punished, as well as the accused are entitled to a fair trial. Whether or not Mr Justic Murphy should be convicted

is for the next jury to determine - not the Premier, nor anyone else who has not been sworn as a juror, who has not sat in Court throughout the trial and observed the witnesses, and weighed the evidence without preconceptions of guilt or innocence. '

To criticise the verdict reached by the first jury was bad enough. But that was after the event. Public assertions of Murphy's innocence with a new trial pending are very much worse. A nd, the more highly placed the figure who asserts Murphy's innocence, the more likely it is that a new trial may be prejudged. .

If this kind of public trial of the issues before juries are impanelled is allowed to continue, unchecked by action from the Attorney-General and the Director of Public Prosecutions, we can say goodbye to the principle of fair

trial by juries of criminal cases. -

1 December 1985

For further information contact:

Mr John Spender - 02-326 1747 (AH) 02-929 2849 Monday, 2 December. -