Message from President Arthur Moses SC
The President of the New South Wales Bar Association, Arthur Moses SC, has today supported the president of the Law Society of Tasmania, Will Justo, in condemning remarks by a Tasmanian State Government Minister about criminal defence lawyers.
As reported in LawyersWeekly, available here, president Justo has sought an apology from the Tasmanian Minister for Police, Fire and Emergency Management, Michael Ferguson MP, for comments made in August which Mr Justo described as "without foundation, dishonourable and disgraceful".
In an open letter to the Minister, Mr Justo said that “The maintenance of the rule of law requires a strong and independent legal profession. That profession stands up to government overreach and represents the vulnerable, including those charged with criminal offences. It is often not a popular thing to do, but fairness demands that everyone, including those charged with a crime, be given a fair go. Unfortunately, your comments demonstrate that you have little idea or regard for such important principles.”
Mr Moses said today that “President Justo is right - a skilled, respected and independent legal profession remains as fundamental to the rule of law and the proper administration of justice as ever before”.
“I join with President Justo in condemning the Minister’s remarks. Criminal defence lawyers play an important role in putting the prosecution to proof and ensuring that vulnerable, unpopular or offensive people, or persons associated with unpopular causes such as those facing criminal charges, are not left without representation in courts of justice.
"Lawyers should never flinch from their duty to help all those who are elected to parliament - ministers above all - understand and accept that the privileges of legal representation should not only be available to the powerful or the popular," Mr Moses said.