Want to get a better idea about who our Lawyers are? We’ve asked our lawyers the same six questions so you can see their views on controversial topics and what makes them work in criminal law.
As expected, our Senior Associate Sam Jackson, was the first to answer : –
Aside from obtaining Specialist Accreditation last year, getting my first “Not Guilty” verdict when I was still a very junior solicitor was a big moment for me.
The trial went for 3 days and involved an infamous former Police officer (who was the alleged victim). When my client was found not guilty, within minutes we were being interviewed by national media and the story was on every major news outlet not long after. I’ll never forget all of the congratulatory calls and messages I received that night and over the following days – nor the justice that the former Police officer received in the years to come.
What do you think of a Human Rights Act in Qld?
It’s an important acknowledgement – and reassurance – that there are certain fundamental rights that the Government should not infringe upon. The current Bill that is being considered by Parliament does not go so far as to prevent laws being passed which impede those rights, so may not amount to much in practical terms – time will tell. Having a Human Rights Act could hardly be a bad thing, I just wonder whether having one will really change the way that law is drafted and applied in Queensland.
How can you act for those guilty people?
AKA the most popular question to get asked at a party… It’s a lot easier than most people seem to think. Although there is a formal, legal response to the question, the best way to explain it is also the simplest: everyone, even people who break the law, have a right to be treated fairly by the Courts. Having a lawyer represent you, even when you are guilty, helps to ensure that justice is properly done, whatever that might mean in your individual case. Assisting the Court in this way doesn’t just help our clients – the community, the victim, the police; all benefit from a system that works the way it is meant to, and what we do goes a long way to achieving that.
What words of advice would you give to new law graduates?
If you want to practice crime, be prepared to work for it. Despite what you might think is a never-ending market for clients, Criminal Law is a competitive industry dominated by small businesses, so if you want to make it you’ll have to put in the effort. This includes offering yourself up for volunteer work experience if you are able to – it’s a big sacrifice but it more often than not will give you invaluable access to the real inner workings of the profession, and will also give you an opportunity to get to know many of your soon-to-be colleagues.
Should drugs be de-criminalised?
Controversial.. I tend to think not. Absent some form of control over the substances that people would have access to, decriminalisation would present a lot of risk to the community/drug users, as it would just open up an unregulated market for every Walter White wannabe in the State. There is ongoing research into both the risks and benefits of many of the drugs currently illegal in Queensland (let alone across the world), so simply lifting the ban on them without knowing fully what harm (or good) could come from it would be irresponsible. Or maybe I’m just getting a bit old and out of touch?
What’s the best part of your job?
I won’t sugar coat it – dealing with clients at all hours of the day and night, who are invariably stressed and in high-pressure, serious situations, isn’t always fun (particularly those late-night calls to attend Police interviews). But at the end of the day you always have a story to remember – whether it’s the serial flasher back for his 50th indecent exposure, the drug dealer whose operation came unravelled because he accidentally used his real name while Police were listening to his calls, or even just the countless clients who have made mistakes but are otherwise decent, well-meaning people – you are never short of an interesting moment or memory.