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Just Outcomes in Australian Courts - Azaria Chamberlain and Walsh Street Cases

Uploaded by Ethan on Nov 09, 2002

The legal system aims to achieve just outcomes, however the perception of justice varies between individuals, the legal system and society in general. A ‘just outcome’ cannot be simply defined, so a working definition is developed instead. A just outcome is said to be “a result of any process or procedure on individuals and society within the operation of the legal system that is seen as fair or proper by the majority of society”.

Justice can be procedural and substantive. Procedural justice is attained where the process for reaching a decision is fair and just. Substantive justice is where the final outcome is fair and just.

A ‘just outcome’ is measured by four principles: fairness, equality, mechanisms and values. Fairness is achieved by the unbiased treatment of the accused and an independent judiciary. Equality is achieved by the accused being treated impartially and the law being applied to all people in the same way. Mechanisms are the facilities provided by the legal system to produce a just outcome. Values are ideals and opinions of society in general, formed from moral, social, economic or political beliefs.

Conversely, the principles of just outcomes can be restricted by negative operational factors: structural, access and cultural/socio-economic. Structural factors like criminal trial procedure, rules of evidence and the role of the jury negatively affect the attainment of just outcomes. Cultural factors like media bias further hinder the attainment of just outcomes.

The two outcomes being examined are the Chamberlain Trial (1982) and the Walsh Street Trial (1991).

The Chamberlain trial involved the disappearance of nine-week-old Azaria Chantel Chamberlain from Ayers Rock Camping Ground on 17 August 1980. Alice Lynne Chamberlain claimed her daughter was taken from the family tent by a dingo. Police maintained that Lindy had killed Azaria in the family car and when new evidence was uncovered a second coroner’s inquest was held. Subsequently, Lindy was placed on trial for murder in the NT Supreme Court. The jury unanimously found Lindy guilty of murder and sentenced her to life imprisonment with hard labour. Her husband, Michael Chamberlain, was found guilty of being an accessory after the fact and given an 18-month suspended sentence.

The Walsh Street Trial involved the murder of two police constables in South Yarra on 12 October 1988. The police alleged that Trevor Pettingill, Victor Pierce, Anthony Farrell and Peter McEnvoy plotted to kill two officers after their associate, Graeme Jensen...

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Uploaded by:   Ethan

Date:   11/09/2002

Category:   Law

Length:   11 pages (2,391 words)

Views:   2817

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