Anastasia Qvist is an outstanding lawyer. My criminal law situation (family violence order) was difficult, complex and Ana's diligence saved me as I was going through the most difficult period of my life. Ana is down to earth, commonsense and she even kept our costs to a minimum. She is a skilled litigator and knows the ins and outs of the ACT Magistrates Court. She dealt skillfully with the DPP and is an excellent negotiator. You will get a fair representation and she genuinely cares about her clients. She has my complete recommendation. The lady goes to bat for her clients.
I would strongly recommend Anastasia to anyone who is seeking legal representation. As a first-time offender who was charged with a Level 2 Drink Driving offence, she walked me through every step of the matter and was very upfront and clear on all aspects of my case. She was always accessible when I needed advice. Her approach and advice were excellent. Under her representation, I received the best possible outcome and managed to avoid a criminal conviction. She was a pleasure to deal with throughout the whole matter.
Anastasia Qvist was very professional and helpful in every step of my matter. I got a very good outcome and I can’t thank you enough for your hard work and the Armstrong Legal team in Canberra. I would highly recommend her!!!
Throughout Angela has been the consummate professional. She maintained a calm, yet strong demeanour remained informative and completely open in her communication and took complete ownership of the situation. We felt confident we finally had an advocate to steer us out of the nightmare we were in, and she did so with great respect and sincerity. I cannot speak more highly of Angela. She has literally rescued our family from what looked very much like a hopeless future.
Words can’t describe how grateful I am to Trudie Cameron being my solicitor and to Andrew Tiedt presenting my case in the court. They both have been very supportive and amazingly professional and effective. I’ve got an absolutely fantastic outcome I couldn’t even dream about.
Soon after meeting Andrew I knew he was the solicitor I wanted to handle my matter. He immediately sprang into action which brought me stability and hope during a tumultuous time in my life. Andrew was never afraid to give me straight answers to my tough questions which is a true mark of integrity. He is clearly at ease in the court environment and I believe his calm and measured demeanour went a long way to helping me secure the best result from my day in court. I would certainly recommend you approach Andrew if you need assistance.
"Andrew Tiedt was very professional and considerate to personal circumstances and gave sound advice that resulted in the best outcome possible. Highly recommended."
Criminal Trials by Judge Alone (ACT)
A criminal defendant in Canberra was recently acquitted of seven serious sex offences in a case run without a jury. While the usual procedure for sexual offences is to hold a jury trial, this has been varied due to the COVID-19 pandemic. For the period of the COVID-19 emergency, defendants facing charges that are usually excluded from the election for a trial by judge alone will have the opportunity to make such an election.
Election for trial by judge alone
In the past, the ACT allowed defendants charged with sexual assaults to elect to be tried by a judge alone. However, in recent years, the ACT Government decreed that sexual-assault matters were to be decided by a jury, ending the option of electing for a judge alone trial in these matters. Sexual assault matters joined murder and other serious charges on a schedule of offences excluded from judge alone election.
COVID-19 emergency period
The COVID-19 pandemic has now led the ACT government to amend the Supreme Court Act to provide that election for judge-alone trials would be returned for “excluded offences” for the “COVID-19 emergency period”, which it has defined to run from 16 March until 31 December 2020.
The defendant mentioned above was contesting six charges of sexual intercourse with a child and one charge of committing an act of indecency on a child. He made the election for trial by judge alone, appearing before Justice Mossop in the ACT Supreme Court. He was acquitted on all counts.
Why a trial by judge alone?
The decision of whether to be tried by judge and jury, or by judge alone, is a very idiosyncratic one. There are many, varying views on what is the best course in any particular case and with any particular defendant.
Ultimately, when a defendant is eligible to make an election, it is always a choice for the defendant, after advice from his or her lawyer. The decision revolves around perceptions of how jury members, as opposed to judges, go about approaching the evidence before them.
In a jury trial, while the jury is the judge of the facts, the judge is the judge of the law. The judge gives the jury directions as to how it must apply the law to the facts. What happens in the jury room remains the greatest mystery of our criminal-justice system as jurors are not allowed to disclose what occurred during deliberations, even after the trail has concluded.
When a judge-alone election is made, the judge becomes the judge of the facts and the law. The judge must give themself the many quite technical legal directions they would otherwise give to a jury. In the case mentioned above, directions took up the first half-dozen pages of Justice Mossop’s judgment, including capturing in classic terms how decision-making should be done in court.
“As I am the judge of the facts, as well as the judge of the law, I must bring an open and unbiased mind to the evidentiary material,” he declared. “I must view that material coldly, clinically and dispassionately, and I must not let emotion enter into the decision-making process, because both the Crown and the accused are entitled to my verdict free of partiality or prejudice, favour or ill will …
“I must determine the relevant facts … without acting capriciously or irrationally.”
Suspicions that not all jurors can bring that cold, clinical and dispassionate mindset to court – especially in child-sex allegations – are often behind the election for a judge-alone trial, when that option is available.
Fine distinctions must be made by the jurors, or the judge, when assessing the guilt or innocence of an accused.
Justice Mossop began his conclusion by saying, “The decision that I have ultimately reached is that, although the complaints made by the complainant appear credible and it is likely that the complainant was sexually interfered with by the accused, I have what I consider to be a reasonable doubt about the accuracy of the complainant’s evidence.”
He went so far as to say “there must be grave suspicion surrounding the conduct of the accused toward the complainant” but, taken collectively, a number of doubts led him to find that he was “not able to accept the accuracy of the complainant’s evidence to the high standard that the law requires.”
Some have suggested that many potential jury members would not be capable of such fine distinctions.
In the ACT, from as early as New Year’s Day 2021, the choice of judge-alone trials will again be removed from a defendant facing child sex charges or other charged excluded from judge alone election.
If you require legal advice or representation in any legal matter, please contact Armstrong Legal.
WHERE TO NEXT?
If you suspect that you may be under investigation, or if you have been charged with an offence, it is vital to get competent legal advice as early as possible. Our lawyers are highly specialised in criminal law and will be able to guide you through the process while dealing with the various authorities related to your matter.
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