Previous Justice Talks lectures | Law

Previous Justice Talks lectures

Justice Talks is a free public lecture series from UNSW Law that focuses on justice and the law.

Previous lectures in this series:

Nicholas Cowdery - 'Criminal Justice and Criminal Law: A Pig in a Poke?'
Pat O'Shane - 'An eye for an eye - an oxymoron or real justice?'
Keith Mason - 'The human sides of the law'
Ronald Sackville - 'Law and Justice - do they meet? Reflections from a confused career'
Malcolm M. Feeley - 'The bar, the bench and the state'
Martin Krygier - 'Humanist science as a vocation - what it is, why we need more of it and why we get less'
Lucia Zedner - 'Detaining the dangerous - A comparative jurisprudence of preventive detention'

2013 Lectures

Join us for the fourth Justice Talks lecture in 2013 by the Hon Pat O'Shane, Australia's first Indigenous magistrate.

About the talk:

An eye for an eye– an oxymoron or real justice?

For too long justice and punishment have been seen as interchangeable terms. Retribution, not rehabilitation has been focus of the justice system, spurred on by public outcry and political pressure. Is the idea of ‘retributive justice’ an effective form of punishment or an excuse for vengeance? Is the long-term social cost of retribution really equal to the crime?

Register here

About the speaker:

Pat O’Shane began her career as a teacher in Queensland before completing a Bachelor of Laws at UNSW in 1976. Soon after she became Australia’s first Indigenous barrister and worked for the Aboriginal Legal Service in Sydney and Alice Springs.  

In 1981, O’Shane was appointed the Head of New South Wales Aboriginal Affairs Department, breaking more records as the first woman and first Indigenous person to be the head of a government department in Australia. During this time, she was the Commissioner of the Commonwealth Tertiary Education Commission from 1983 to 1986 and later became the Chancellor of the University of New England from 1995 to 2003.

Pat O'Shane is most recognised for becoming the first appointed Indigenous Australian magistrate for the local courts of New South Wales in 1986, a position she held until her retirement in 2012.

- See more at: http://www.law.unsw.edu.au/events/2013-09-19-080000-2013-09-19-093000/ju...

Justice Talks: Criminal Justice and Criminal Law: A Pig in a Poke?

Nicholas Cowdery
Former NSW Director of Public Prosecutions

15 October 2013

View the video of the lecture here.

About the talk:

The criminal law creates crimes and the procedures for formally dealing with them, recognising and seeking to protect individual rights. We expect it to enable justice to be done between an offender and the community. But the laws are made by parliaments and interpreted and applied by the courts; so whose justice is done - and does the law sometimes stand in its way? And if it does, what can we do about it? A lawyer reflects on 45 years.

About the speaker:

Nicholas Cowdery AM QC was the Director of Public Prosecutions for the State of New South Wales from 1994 to 2011, the largest prosecuting agency in Australia.  

He was admitted as a Barrister in 1971 after undergraduate employment in the office of the Commonwealth Deputy Crown Solicitor in Sydney. He commenced practice (1971 - 1975) as a public defender in Papua New Guinea (based in Port Moresby, Rabaul and Lae at various times and travelling throughout the country).

From 1975 until 1994 he was in private practice at the Sydney Bar, where he practised largely in criminal law (prosecuting and defending), common law, administrative law and some commercial law. He appeared in most Australian jurisdictions.

He appeared in, among other cases, the prosecutions of the late Justice Lionel Murphy (of the High Court of Australia) and of the late Sir Joh Bjelke-Petersen (former Premier of the State of Queensland). He appeared in the Blackburn Royal Commission in 1989/90 and was counsel assisting the Brennan TRG inquiry in 1991. In 1987 he was appointed one of Her Majesty’s Counsel (QC). He was an Acting (“Associate”) Judge of the District Court of NSW for periods in 1988, 1989 and 1990.

He was appointed a Member in the Order of Australia (AM) in 2003 for service to the development and practice of criminal law, and for fostering international relations in the area of human rights. He has received many domestic and international awards. He is the author of “Getting Justice Wrong: myths, media and crime” (Allen & Unwin, 2001).

Currently Nicholas is a Visiting Professorial Fellow at UNSW Law; an Adjunct Professor of Law at the Sydney Institute of Criminology, University of Sydney; a Visiting Professorial Fellow at Wollongong University; and an Adjunct Professor at Charles Sturt University. He is a legal expert consultant to the Commonwealth Secretariat, London and is a consultant to the UNODC on a joint International Association of Prosecutors project.

 

Justice Talks: An eye for an eye– an oxymoron or real justice?

The Hon Pat O'Shane
Australia's first Indigenous magistrate, UNSW Law's first Indigenous graduate

19 September 2013

View the video of the lecture here

About the talk:

For too long justice and punishment have been seen as interchangeable terms. Retribution, not rehabilitation has been focus of the justice system, spurred on by public outcry and political pressure. Is the idea of ‘retributive justice’ an effective form of punishment or an excuse for vengeance? Is the long-term social cost of retribution really equal to the crime?

About the speaker:

Pat O’Shane began her career as a teacher in Queensland before completing a Bachelor of Laws at UNSW in 1976. Soon after she became Australia’s first Indigenous barrister and worked for the Aboriginal Legal Service in Sydney and Alice Springs.  

In 1981, O’Shane was appointed the Head of New South Wales Aboriginal Affairs Department, breaking more records as the first woman and first Indigenous person to be the head of a government department in Australia. During this time, she was the Commissioner of the Commonwealth Tertiary Education Commission from 1983 to 1986 and later became the Chancellor of the University of New England from 1995 to 2003.

Pat O'Shane is most recognised for becoming the first appointed Indigenous Australian magistrate for the local courts of New South Wales in 1986, a position she held until her retirement in 2012.

 

Justice Talks: The Human Sides of the Law

The Hon Keith Mason AC QC
Former President of the Court of Appeal NSW

7 May 2013

View the video of the lecture here

About the talk:

The rule of law (and not of lawyers) is not a myth. It is however a multi-faceted concept aspiring to fairness, consistency, factual truth, civility of discourse, and fidelity to statute and common law. Our system of government may be divinely instituted but its functioning depends on human (sometimes all too human) actors in their roles as witnesses, police, jurors, legislators, lawyers, judges and academics.

This lecture will concentrate upon the ways in which our common humanity affects what really happens. Why do different witnesses to the same event see or remember it differently? What does it mean that judges and jurors disagree amongst themselves? What distortions are produced by the engineered conflict of an adversarial system? What is to be done about resultant miscarriages of justice which are (sadly) perennial if not inevitable? What role do personal values and life experiences play in the discernment and application of the law by appellate judges?

About the speaker:

Keith Mason AC QC has been a solicitor, barrister, law reformer, solicitor-general, president of the Court of Appeal, law teacher and mediator. He has been the Chancellor of the Anglican Diocese of Armidale for many years and is currently the President of the Appellate Tribunal of the Anglican Church of Australia. He has written books and articles on topics including restitution, equity, judicial method, taxonomy in the law and the interface of law and morality. He recently published Lawyers Then and Now: An Australian Legal Miscellany, a collection of true accounts illustrating the recurring constancies and changes of the Australian legal culture and the quirkiness of the people of the law.

 

Justice Talks: Law and Justice - Do they meet? Reflections from a confused career

The Hon Ronald Sackville AO QC
Former Federal Court of Australia

27 March 2013

View the video of the lecture here

About the talk:

For centuries lawyers have not enjoyed a good press. Outsiders and some within the legal community see a yawning gap between the professed aspirations of lawyers and the reality. Some lament “The Lost Lawyer”. Yet for most lawyers a belief that they serve justice, in one form or another,  is central to their sense of self- worth as members of a learned profession.

A lawyer’s idea of justice tends to be shaped by his or her experiences (although of course ideas of justice can also influence career choices and the focus of a chosen career). Thus a lawyer’s perspective may vary according to whether, for example, he or she is a practitioner (in the private or public sectors), a legal academic, a policy maker or a judge. It is not surprising that over the course of a varied career (as today’s graduates can expect) views as to the relationship between the legal system and “justice” may change, even if the lawyer’s fundamental values remain intact.

In this talk, Justice Sackville will explore his own ideas of justice as they have been influenced by the various roles he has performed over far too many years: legal academic, Royal Commissioner, law reformer, practising barrister and Judge of courts in Australia and elsewhere. He will consider the law as a force for social justice, the notion of “access to justice”, the constraints on Judges who promise to do “justice according to law” and  Australian concepts of the rule of law.

About the speaker:

Justice Sackville served as a Judge of the Federal Court of Australia from 1994 to 2008 and is now an acting judge of the Court of Appeal of the Supreme Court of New South Wales.

Justice Sackville was Dean of the Law School between 1979 and 1981 and was awarded an Honorary Doctorate from UNSW in 2002. His many other achievements have included serving as Commissioner for Law and Poverty on the Australian Government Commission of Inquiry into Poverty (1973-1975); Chairman of the South Australian Royal Commission into the Non-Medical Use of Drugs (1979-1981); Chairman of the New South Wales Law Reform Commission (1981-1984); and Chair of the Access to Justice Advisory Committee (1993-1994). He was also an Assistant Commissioner of the NSW Independent Commission Against Corruption (1992). 

 

2012 Lectures

Justice Talks: The Bar, The Bench and the State

Professor Malcolm M. Feeley, Boalt Hall Law School, University of California, Berkeley.

23 October 2012

View the video of the lecture here.

About the talk:

The now-conventional analysis of the legal profession in the United States and England is that professionalism is for the most part an institutional arrangement by lawyers to facilitate monopolies for both purposes of income (Magli-Larson; Abel) and prestige (Bourdieu; Garth and Dezalay; Abbott). Recent work by Terry Halliday, Lucien Karpik, and me challenges this view, and argues that this new orthodoxy overstates the case. We return to a version of the classic model of the legal profession as a learned profession with a public calling. Elaborating on this model, in various combinations we have undertaken empirical investigations of the role of the bench and the bar in the struggle for political freedom.

What we find is that lawyers—the organized bar—and judges—the bench--are consistently found to press for core political freedoms (not all, but consistently “first generation” negative freedoms). Of course not all lawyers and judges engage in this struggle, nor is it found everywhere. But often when it is not present, it is because the organized bar has been silenced by the state, and judges, always in a precarious position, have been silenced invarious explicit and heavy handed ways. But over all there is a pronounced tendency for lawyers and judges (especially in common law countries)—to press for political freedom.

The explanation for this is found in the self-conception that lawyers have of themselves, as well as their understanding the nature of the law. They see themselves as “stewards of the law,” an institution that is autonomous or semi-autonomous from the state. Thus they jealously guard their prerogatives as guardians of the law.

Our project is empirical; it traces the actions of the legal complex in its struggle for political liberalism and the moderate state. Indeed, in our expansive moments we hope to contribute to a revision in approaching the study of comparative politics. Traditionally when addressing such questions comparative politics scholars have focused on class, markets, and political parties. Following the work of Guillermo O’Donnell and others, we suggest that ideas of constitutionalism and the autonomy of law also play some significant role in fostering political stability and moderation.

The talk draws on research commissioned for our project.

About the speaker:

Malcolm M. Feeley is the Claire Sanders Clements Dean's Chair Professor of Law, and a senior member of the Jurisprudence and Social Policy Program at Boalt Hall Law School, University of California, Berkeley. Before joining the Boalt faculty in 1984, he was a fellow at Yale Law School and taught at New York University and the University of Wisconsin. He served as the director of the campus Centre for the Study of Law and Society from 1987 to 1992. He has also been a visiting professor at Hebrew University, Kobe University, and Princeton University. He is currently in Australia as a Fulbright Flinders University Distinguished Chair in American Political Science. He is undertaking research into privatisation in the criminal justice system in Australia as part of a comparative study of the subject in the US, England and Australia.

Professor Feeley has written or edited over a dozen books, and has authored several dozen articles in social science journals and law reviews. Among his books are The Process is the Punishment (1992), which received the ABA's Silver Gavel Award and the American Sociology Association's Citation of Merit, Court Reform on Trial (1989), which received the ABA's Certificate of Merit, and The Policy Dilemma (1981), Criminal Justice (with John Kaplan and Jerome Skolnick, 1991), Judicial Policy Making and the Modern State (with with Edward Rubin, 1998), Federalism: Political Identity and Tragic Compromise (with Edward Rubin, 2008), and Fighting for Political Liberalism: Comparative Studies of the Legal Complex (with Terrence Halliday and Lucien Karpik, 2008). His most recent articles examine issues of federalism, women and crime in the eighteenth century, prison privatization, and the role of bench and bar in fostering political liberalism.

 

Justice Talks: Humanist Science as a Vocation - What it is, why we need more of it and why we get less

Professor Martin Krygier is the Gordon Samuels Professor of Law, UNSW Law

11 September 2012

View a video of the lecture here.

About the talk:

This lecture focuses on the thought of Philip Selznick (1919-2010), a major American sociologist whose work spanned most of last century and many disciplinary and sub-disciplinary domains. Central among them are general social theory, the sociology of organizations and institutions, communist organizational strategy, industrial relations, sociology of law; and also legal, moral and political philosophy. He produced a substantial and important body of writings which brought to all these various fields a distinctive combination of explanatory theory, empirical research, philosophical awareness, and moral engagement. He was a major figure in each of the fields he touched, and one of very few to have contributed to so many, let alone been influential in them all. 

Transcending his particular contributions to any of these ‘fields’ are his distinctive, ecumenical, ways of thinking about them all. These add up to what he came to call ‘a humanist science’. Unfortunately, however, he is known more for specific contributions than his overarching project, which is hardly noticed. Less fortunate still, his work is more respected than emulated and today more known about than known; cited than read. That seems to me a pity, and perhaps, to paraphrase Talleyrand, worse than a pity; a mistake. For beyond his many particular insights into the nature and quality of institutional, legal, and social life and development, there is his cast of mind; ways of thinking, animating concerns and values, and a distinctive (and fine) sensibility, that fuse humanist and scientific concerns, factual and evaluative inquiries, without either embarrassment or false showmanship, and with a firm commitment both to getting the facts right, and asking what they are worth. Though thought of his kind exhibits many virtues, I will argue that it is increasingly hard to find or to spawn in the modern academy, and there is no reason to expect this lamentable state of affairs to change.

About the speaker:

Professor Martin Krygier is a Gordon Samuels Professor of Law and Social Theory and Co-Director of the Network for Interdisciplinary Studies of Law at UNSW (see http://www.law.unsw.edu.au/profile/martin-krygier for further details. 

This event was jointly hosted by UNSW Law and the Academy of the Social Sciences of Australia.

Previous Justice Talks lectures

 

Justice Talks: Detaining the Dangerous – A comparative jurisprudence of preventive detention.

Lucia Zedner is Professor of Criminal Justice at the Faculty of Law, University of Oxford.

6 August 2012

Read the paper here or view a video of the lecture.

About the talk:

The right of the individual to be free from unwarranted interference by the state is sacrosanct. Yet most states have extensive powers to detain those deemed dangerous ahead of proven wrongdoing or beyond the period of proportionate punishment. This lecture asks what is preventive detention and when is it justified? On what grounds is it justly imposed, under what conditions and to what ends? It asks what limits should be placed upon preventive detention and what protections should be afforded to those detained? Analysing the very different ways in which these issues are resolved by courts in Australia, Europe, New Zealand, and the US reveals the inherently contested character of preventive detention and exposes its varied and contingent nature. Comparing arrangements for detaining the dangerous across jurisdictions suggests differences in legal culture, conceptions of risk, danger and prevention that go to the heart of the permissibility of imposing detention on grounds of danger to the public and what licences this highly coercive exercise of state power.

About the speaker:

Lucia Zedner is Professor of Criminal Justice at the Faculty of Law, Law Fellow at Corpus Christi College, and a Member of the Centre for Criminology, University of Oxford. She has held visiting fellowships at universities in Germany, Israel, America, and Australia. Since 2007 she has also held the position of Conjoint Professor in the Law Faculty at the University of New South Wales, Sydney where she is a regular visitor. She serves on the editorial boards of several journals and is the General Editor of the Oxford University Press monograph series Clarendon Studies in Criminology. She has published dozens of articles and book chapters and her books include: Principles and Values in Criminal Law and Criminal Justice(2012) co-edited with Julian Roberts; Security(2009); Crime and Security (2006), co-edited with Benjamin Goold; Criminal Justice (2004); The Criminological Foundations of Penal Policy (2003), co-edited with Andrew Ashworth; Child Victims (1992), with Jane Morgan; and Women, Crime, and Custody in Victorian England(1991).

Professor Zedner is currently co-directing, with Oxford colleague Professor Andrew Ashworth, a three-year study of Preventive Justice, generously funded by the British Arts and Humanities Research Council. The project analyses the foundations for the range of coercive measures that states now take against individuals in the name of crime prevention and public protection. It seeks to establish what the state may justly do to prevent harm and to formulate a normative framework for all forms of coercive preventive measures, and thereby to develop scholarship in a new direction – preventive justice.