Students benefit from WA Shadow Attorney General's experience

Document Type

Media Release

Publication Date

Fall 22-3-2011

Publisher Name

The University of Notre Dame Australia, Fremantle Campus

Publication Place



Students studying Law at The University of Notre Dame Australia have had the benefit of hearing firsthand of the significant importance of Evidence in a judgement when they attended a lecture by Western Australia’s Shadow Attorney General, Mr John Quigley MLA.

Mr Quigley quoted from his own experience when he addressed the issue of Burden and Standard of Proof as a guest lecturer for the School of Law’s Evidence Unit.

In his lecture, Mr Quigley referred to the case which saw a Western Australia policeman convicted of common assault when he was captured on a security camera outside a hotel in March 2010.

The incident initiated much public discussion about the proposed WA laws which would give police unprecedented stop and search powers of potentially innocent people.

Mr Quigley also spoke of an inquiry into whether officers perverted the course of justice in the case of an Aboriginal man tasered multiple times in custody in 2008. Again, this case caused widespread concern amongst the general public who expressed a concern about the power of police to make such a decision.

"John’s examples were excellent in confirming the importance of the law in providing the ‘Burden of Proof’”, said lecturer Marilyn Krawitz.

“The term ‘Burden of Proof’ is generally used in two senses. Firstly, the term ‘evidential burden’ refers to the obligation of a litigant to produce sufficient evidence on a claim or defence to enable a judge to allow it to be presented to the fact finder (judge or jury as the case may be) in reaching its ultimate decision in a case,” explained Ms Krawitz.

“The second is the ‘legal burden’ which refers to the obligation of a litigant to ultimately persuade the fact finder that certain facts which are essential to establishing a claim or defence are true, or suffer the consequence of having the fact finder determine that the claim or defence has not been proved … it is only when the evidential burden on a claim or defence has been successfully discharged that the fact finder considers the question of whether the legal burden has been met.”

Ms Krawitz said that both controversial cases had provided her with firsthand experience that she found extremely interesting and valuable as a lawyer herself.

Helen Sanchez Platell said she was enthralled and inspired by Mr Quigley's lecture.

“He brings a real life passion and conviction to the topic of evidentiary burden and the burden of proof. As a student of law, I am encouraged by his commitment to individual rights, where no one stands above the law and everyone has the right to the presumption of innocence.”

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