Examining Process: Court appearances via video link for young offenders in Queensland

Dr Terry Hutchinson1

1Southern Cross University, ,

Video links are generally cost effective. Any installation costs are offset through reduced expenditure on staffing and transport costs in taking children from the detention centres to the courts. According to the US Federal Judiciary Center, ‘the use of video and web technology in the courtroom has resulted in greater efficiency during hearings and trials’, and has increased ‘workload capacity, driven down legal related costs’ and improved ‘operational security’ (Schiffner, 2011). Earlier studies had acknowledged other benefits such as avoiding security risks and the discomfort of travelling, and the greater efficiency when processing defendants (Poulin, 2004). Video links may be the preferred option in some circumstances, especially in regional and remote areas (WA Inquiry into the Transportation of Detained Persons: The Implementation of the Coroner’s Recommendations in Relation to the Death of Mr Ward and Related Matters, 23 July 2011). A 2013 study examined design issues (Rowden, Wallace, Tait, et al, ‘Gateways to Justice: design and operational guidelines for remote participation in court proceedings’, UWS, 2013). Most studies have concentrated on the use of videolinks in the adult jurisdiction (Terry, Johnson and Thompson, ‘Virtual Court Pilot Outcome Evaluation’, UK Ministry of Justice Research Series 21/10). More recent research is questioning the use of this technology with vulnerable defendants especially children (Gibbs, ‘Defendants on video – conveyor belt justice or a revolution in access?’, Transform Justice Report, United Kingdom, 2017; Harris, “They just don’t understand what’s happened or why”: A report on child defendants and video links, UK Standing Committee for Youth Justice, April 2018; Walsh, ‘Video Links in Youth Justice Proceedings: When Rights and Convenience Collide’ 2018; McKay, ‘Video Links from Prison: Permeability and the Carceral World’, 2016). This research involved interviews with 40 actors in the Queensland youth justice sector along with 35 observations of court practice. It is hoped that the results will go some way to ensuring that the cost effectiveness of the use of this technology will not occur at the expense of fairness so that protocols are in place for the use of the technology that ensure its use is in the best interests of the child.


Biography:

Dr Terry Hutchinson was appointed an Adjunct Professor within the School of Law and Justice at Southern Cross University in November 2017. Prior to this, Dr Hutchinson held the position of Associate Professor in Law at Queensland University of Technology, being a member of Faculty 1987-2016, and a Visiting Fellow 2017. Dr Hutchinson’s research revolves around a sound use of the evidence base particularly in relation to children and youth justice, and is presently completing a funded Australian Institute of Criminology project (CRG 19/16-17: Examining Process: Court appearances via videolink for young offenders in Queensland). Dr Hutchinson has published extensively in the area of postgraduate legal research training. Her research manual Researching and Writing in Law (Thomson Reuters, 4th ed, 2018) has an international readership. Dr Hutchinson served as full-time member of the Queensland Law Reform Commission. She is a member of the Queensland Childrens Court Committee (from 2016), served on the Queensland Department of Justice Stakeholder Advisory Group transitioning 17 year olds to the youth justice system (2016-2019), and the Youth Advocacy Centre (YAC) Management Committee (from 2016). She is a former chair and until recently a member of the Queensland Law Society’s Equity and Diversity Committee (2002-2017) and the QLS representative on the Law Council of Australia’s Equalising Opportunities Committee (2004-2016). She remains an active member of the Queensland Law Society’s Childrens Committee (from 2014). She was a member of the Australasian Law Teachers’ Association (ALTA) Executive from 2005-2011 and served as Editor in Chief and then Associate Editor of the peer reviewed Legal Education Review 2004-2011. Terry remains a member of the journal’s Advisory Board.

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