Thursday, 24 September 2020
“This is a trial like no other. This is a trial like every other. Those apparently irreconcilable statements are both true.”
These were the opening words of his Hon Justice Hall’s 619 page judgment following the trial of Mr Edwards. The full judgment is available here.
In introductory remarks his Honour said that this was a trial like no other because of its length, its size and the high degree of public interest. Extensive investigation led to an “unusually lengthy and detailed prosecution case”, involving 95 trial sitting days, 240 witnesses and 2,879 exhibits.
His Honour said that this was a case like every other, because, despite some unusual features, the fundamental principles that apply to every criminal trial applied equally to this one:
“The courts do not deliver different standards of justice. Justice is dispensed without fear or favour, affection or ill-will. The promise of equal justice before the law required that this trial, like all criminal trials, be conducted with care to ensure fairness to both the defence and the prosecution. The accused was presumed innocent, the State bore the onus of proof and the standard of proof was beyond reasonable doubt. Those principles are unqualified, immutable and uniform in their application.”
Like every other criminal case, this case involved the lives of real people:
“The victims were real people who had families that loved them and who deserve to be treated with dignity and respect. Also, as in every criminal case, there is an accused person who stands charged with serious offences and whose fate depends critically on the outcome of this trial. He, like every other accused person, is entitled to a fair trial conducted according to law.”
The Law Society respectfully acknowledges these fundamental principles, which are relevant to all criminal trials. Our system of justice requires that all criminal trials be conducted with fairness, that all accused are presumed to be innocent, the presumption of innocence may only be displaced by proof beyond reasonable doubt, and that all people connected to a criminal trial process deserve to be treated with dignity and respect.
The Law Society also acknowledges the committed work of the senior counsel and all lawyers engaged in this trial, and their significant contribution to the administration of justice in this State.
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