A prominent criminal lawyer has warned Queensland’s tough new anti-bikie laws could stretch the state’s judicial system to breaking point.
Yesterday, a 25-year-old former Brisbane Bronco player accused of being a member of the Hells Angels, and trafficking drugs, was denied bail.
Police allege Michael Spence was, until recently, a Hells Angels sergeant at arms involved in trafficking drugs.
Under the new anti-bikie laws, he is denied bail automatically unless he can convince the judge otherwise.
Although Spence’s lawyer argued he had resigned from the club nine days before the new laws were passed, he was not released.
The process was not a speedy one, with Chief Magistrate Tim Carmody taking two days to make his decision.
Criminal lawyer Bill Potts, who is not involved in the case, said that is highly unusual.
“It’s quite clear that this legislation is so broad and so vague in its definitions that it is effectively extremely difficult for the court to contend with.”
Mr Carmody was critical of the evidence presented by both the defence and the prosecution.
He told the court “the quality of information provided to me to perform this difficult task has left much to be desired.”
Mr Potts said lawyers are confused by the new legislation.
“The defence are struggling with the new legislation, as is the court and, as I suspect, is the prosecution.”
He is warning the new laws will generate a backlog in the court system.
“Justice delayed is justice denied. When the courts are taken up with lengthy proceedings, with costly applications and delay, inevitably in flows through to everybody.
“I’m concerned that our hardworking judges and magistrates are being stretched to breaking point.
“The Government cannot simply give harsh and draconian legislation without in fact then providing the resources to deal with the inevitable judicial backlog.”
Magistrate hits back over ‘personal attacks’
The deep divisions between Queensland’s legal fraternity and the State Government are not going away.
This week, Premier Campbell Newman said judges and magistrates should come down from their ivory towers and make decisions in line with community expectations.
In reading his decision, Mr Carmody said “there is no cause for personal attacks on the decision makers”, adding that it is “naive and dangerous to expect too much from any human system”.
Mr Potts said the Chief Magistrate’s decision to deny Spence bail is not a win for the Newman Government.
“I don’t think governments can take any comfort from an individual decision. It is merely, I suspect, a minor skirmish.
“What will be interesting is the way in which the law and the judgements proceed over the coming months.”