South Australia has an internal set of standard Criminal Law directions for their judiciary. These were developed many years ago and were therefore out of date. They also lacked explanatory commentary, and used technical and obscure language.
South Australia needed a modern set of directions that were up to date and in plain English.
They also wanted explanatory commentary, so that judges without extensive criminal law experience could oversee criminal trials with a reduced risk of appealable error.
Judicial College Involvement
The Judicial College worked with an editorial committee consisting of Supreme and District Court judges, prosecutors and defence counsel. Our researchers developed carefully researched and written materials for South Australia’s judiciary.
By working with a highly knowledgeable and engaged committee, the College has been able to develop a Bench Book which South Australian judges find as valuable as Victorian judges find the Criminal Charge Book.
The first part of the South Australian Charge Book will be released in late 2019. It contains 40 topics consisting of 61 directions which cover preliminary, final and evidentiary directions for use in all kinds of cases. A second release is scheduled for 2020, which will contain offence-specific directions.
The robust, peer reviewed process of developing jury directions saves judicial time in individual cases. It contributes to the delivery of justice by reducing the risk of appeals and retrials, which minimises trauma for the accused, complainants and witnesses alike.