What is justice? How does our legal system work? And how can we trust a system that is so changeable and widely criticised? These are some of the fundamental questions that former Supreme Court judge Ken Crispin sets out to answer in this enlightening and thought-provoking book.
The law is one of the cornerstones of western democracy, and the judiciary one its most cherished institutions. From a heritage of feudalism and repression, our highly complex criminal justice system has evolved to encompass a respect for social values and the rights of individuals. Recently, however, it has become obvious that rights such as freedom of speech, freedom of association, and freedom from detention without trial are becoming increasingly endangered. The tough-on-crime rhetoric of police and politicians, the 'war on drugs', the 'reforms' designed to increase conviction rates, and the loss of rights due to fear of terrorism all point to an erosion of justice in western societies.
Ken Crispin's wealth of experience on both sides of the bar — from appearing for high-profile defendants such as Lindy and Michael Chamberlain to prosecuting murderers and rapists, and later sitting on the ACT Supreme Court bench — makes him the ideal guide for finding a way through these thorny legal thickets. Moved by the anguish of those crying out for justice which he has observed throughout his career, Crispin lays bare the strengths and weaknesses of the legal system with great clarity and compassion. Compelling and easily comprehensible, but never simplistic, this is the definitive guide to justice as we know it.
About the Author
Ken Crispin commenced practice as a Sydney barrister in 1973. He moved to Canberra in 1979, where his practice flourished, and he appeared for a number of high-profile defendants, including Lindy and Michael Chamberlain. He became a Queen’s Counsel in 1988, and was appointed director of public prosecutions for the Australian Capital Territory in 1991, chairman of the Bar Association in 1996, a Supreme Court judge in 1997, and president of the ACT Court of Appeal in 2001. He chaired the ACT Law Reform Commission between 1996 and 2006. In his spare time, Dr Crispin has completed a PhD in ethics, and written two books, numerous articles on law and ethics, and the libretto for an opera.
'This is a book for all people with a concern for justice. Ken Crispin's dedication to justice has been unflagging; his discussion of its complexities is admirable; his distress at witnessing injustice is plain. When Crispin was a judge of the ACT Supreme Court, he expressed himself with appropriate judicial restraint. It is a pleasure to see that he has shed some of that restraint along with the robes of office. His discussion of the post 9-11 world does not flinch from the truth. His analysis of the West's response to 9-11 exposes how democracy failed us as fear and vengeance trumped principle. In his discussion of Binyam Mohamed's case he recognises Guantanamo Bay for what it is: a concentration camp which too many Australians tolerated, silently, far too long.'
Julian Burnside QC
'Ken Crispin draws on his wealth of experience as a barrister and Supreme Court judge in this comprehensive study of the history and philosophy of our legal system ... Crispin’s philosophical discussion of law and justice is also grounded in contemporary issues, such as refugee rights and mandatory sentencing, and he writes persuasively and precisely, as if giving a judicial ruling on the performance of the entire system of justice. Crispin is a liberal thinker, advocating a less punitive focus in favour of policies that save lives. He also looks beyond the courtroom to address issues of public and social policy, discussing the ‘so-called’ war on drugs in terms of the courts, the police, education and health programmes. The Quest for Justice is an informative study of our legal system and the policies that have shaped it and is a cogent analysis of how justice can be better administered.'
Portia Lindsay (Bookseller & Publisher)
Number Of Pages: 320
Published: 31st May 2010
Publisher: Scribe Publications
Dimensions (cm): 23.0 x 15.2 x 2.5
Weight (kg): 0.458