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Old September 22nd, 2004, 04:20 AM   #1
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'Super court'

Proposed new court buildings on the Mint site, and some disturbing changes to the Supreme Court - from today's Hun.

Super court planned for corruption trials
Kate Jones

A SUPER-security courthouse for gangland and police corruption trials is planned for Melbourne.

A confidential Justice Department report has warned that members of the public and witnesses could be killed amid terrorism fears and concerns about lax court security.

Part of the historic Supreme Court complex would be demolished to make way for the high-security court to try alleged underworld figures.

The court in the William St complex would also host high-risk trials not involving alleged gangsters.

The report, seen by the Herald Sun and now before the State Government, outlines security changes needed at the Supreme, County and Magistrates' Courts and the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal.

"The need for more secure courts has arisen from the increasing threat to the public, court users and trial participants from security breaches and terrorism," the report states.

"Inadequate security in criminal trials may provide the opportunity for contact between participants and the public resulting in serious injury or death.

"This is cause for particular concern with the forthcoming trials arising out of the Purana (underworld murders) and Ceja (police corruption) taskforce inquiries, where murders are alleged to have occurred with no regard for the surrounds," it says.

The report lists high-profile criminal trials, including that of accused underworld boss Carl Williams, as being court security concerns.

Though the high-security court will not be built in time for these trials, it would stage future hearings from the gangland and police corruption investigations.

Stage one of the Melbourne Legal Precinct Master Plan report is heavily critical of court security, especially at the Supreme Court.

"The Supreme Court building . . . is an ageing heritage building with inadequate security," it says. "There are several entrances with sub-standard weapons detection, which means perimeter security cannot be assured."

The report also cites a recent Corrections Victoria security risk assessment of the Supreme and County Courts, which found guards did not have access to duress alarms and prisoners could overpower them in court corridors.

There is also a potential threat for jury contamination and mistrials through jurors sharing common areas with the public.

Chief Justice Marilyn Warren and the Law Institute of Victoria are among those who have called for a revamp of the Supreme Court complex.

Attorney-General Rob Hulls said the legal precinct masterplan was in the early stages.

"The Government is keen to have a justice precinct which caters for the needs of the Victorian public well into the 21st century," he said.

"We are developing a masterplan which, while in its infancy, looks at a range of options, including multipurpose courtrooms that could be used by a range of jurisdictions.

"The Supreme Court is a Melbourne landmark and has to balance the needs of a modern justice system within the confines of a heritage building."

Stage two of the report, yet to be released, recommends the old High Court building within the complex, which was built in 1928, be replaced by the top-security criminal court.

The report also calls for two court buildings to be constructed on government-owned land at the rear of the Royal Mint building on William St.

One building would house a courtroom for "mega-trials" -- lengthy criminal or civil hearings involving large juries, large public galleries and more than six lawyers.

The other court building planned is a new seven-storey home for the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal on King St.

The report identifies the tribunal, which has just two security staff and no weapons detectors, as the greatest security risk of all Melbourne's jurisdictions.

There were 15 reported security incidents at the tribunal in the 2003/2004 financial year, including three assaults, five threats to staff and three threats to the general public.
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Old September 22nd, 2004, 04:41 AM   #2
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I'm not sure which bits they'd be demolishing - there would be a hoo har if anything significant went. But I agree - the security situation is a shambles.
Melbourne - "If I tell you I'm good, you'll think I'm bragging. If I tell you I'm not good, you know that I'm lying." Bruce Lee
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Old September 22nd, 2004, 06:39 AM   #3
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i read the article also read the one on cranes...
city to city coast to coast...
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Old September 22nd, 2004, 06:51 AM   #4
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Well that idea lasted all of one morning:

Super-court not needed: Hulls

By Jesse Hogan
The Age September 22, 2004 - 1:09PM

Victoria's courts are adequately secured and do not need an overhaul to meet the needs of gangland and police corruption trials, state Attorney-General Rob Hulls said today.

A report by the Justice Department recommended part of the historic Supreme Court complex be demolished and replaced with a high-security court.

Responding to the report, which warned lax security meant witnesses and members of the public could be killed, Mr Hulls said much work had already been done to secure courts in the city.

"This state government has significantly invested in the courts system, with the new County Court a benchmark for court security," he said.

"Due to its age and heritage value, it has always been the case that security assessment for individual matters at the Supreme Court have been undertaken on a regular basis."

A spokeswoman for Mr Hulls said government had increased security at the Supreme Court in recent months by hiring more staff, installing a metal-detecting device and locking-off areas of the building.

Mr Hulls did, however, confirm that "high-risk" trials could be transferred from the Supreme Court at the discretion of the Chief Justice.

"It's not a decision for the Attorney-General, but one option is moving some particularly high-risk trials to the County Court," his spokeswoman said.

She said the report in question was only the first of a six-phase report, and as a result "makes no recommendations that the government has to respond to ... but security is something that the government is continually looking at".
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