Last updated 20 July 2016
Sentence hearings for charges that can be dealt with summarily where the defendant is an Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander person can be adjourned to the Murri Court.
The Murri Court aims to link defendants with support services that address the underlying contributors to their offending and ensuring that the magistrate is informed about the defendants’ cultural and personal circumstances, efforts of rehabilitation and ongoing support needs at sentence.
The magistrate is assisted by the Murri Court panel, comprising members of the Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander community nominated by community justice groups. The Murri Court panel sits with the Murri Court magistrate during all mentions and the sentence. The Murri Court assessment panel, comprising Indigenous Elders and a community justice group representative, is tasked with assessing the defendants’ suitability to participate in Murri Court (the entry report), including by identifying support services and reporting on the defendants’ engagement with support services (sentence report). This panel reports to the Murri Court magistrate and Murri Court panel throughout the sentence process.
The proceedings, although formal, are adapted to provide for a process that is better understood by the defendant. The Murri Court panel will also be invited to explain to the defendant the impact of the offending on the community and their family, and to comment on where further steps could be taken by the defendant. Information in the sentence report, including on the defendant’s progress and cultural and personal circumstances, must be taken into account by the Murri Court magistrate at the sentence.