The Background Investigator Goes To Melbourne, Australia
In a continuing series, The Background Investigator, is sends its attorneys (and sometimes Steven Brownstein, himself) to various countries around the world to explore the justice systems and bring back to you their findings.
This month, Steven Brownstein, publisher of the Background Investigator, visited Melbourne, Australia. Here is his report:
All About Melbourne
By Steven Brownstein
I was fortunate enough to have the privilege of visiting the Melbourne Magistrate Court.
The Magistrate Court (Local Court or District Court) is where most Australian cases start.
A seemingly imposing building, yet not quite with the audaciousness of the Law Court building or the grandiosity of the Supreme Court; both buildings are across the street.
In fact, you can view the photo of the Law Court above.
Entering the court
Entering the court is no different from what you might be familiar with in the USA, Canada, England, Europe, Japan, and just about antwhere else.
A security check through metal detectors and an x-ray bag search greet you.
The clerks window is just to the right.
A Visit With The Clerk
Under the large imposing sign that reads 'Information' stands a counter to which I walked up and spoke to the clerk that stood behind it.
I asked her where the Clerks' office was and was asked why.
"Simply want to check a few records on some people that are looking for work, I replied."
"Well then, she beamed, "this is the right counter!"
"We have the computer right here"
"What names do you want search?"
"Well, none actually right now. I am visiting today because when I get back to the United States I can explain to everyone how this system works."
"First I'd like to know if you can search by name?"
"Sure, no problem."
"Can I get case numbers, charges, disposition, identifiers, things like that?"
How about copies, can I get those, too?"
"No! How come?"
"Because they aren't publicly available."
I didn't press her too hard on the subject of copies. I didn't need any at the moment and I had still other questions to ask."
"What type of cases do you have in the computer?"
"What do you mean? Do you have civil cases, too?"
"That's the civil court across the street, right?"
"You mean the Law Court?"
"Yes, do you have access to their cases, too?"
"Yes, we do."
"And how about the other court on the other corner; you know the one that hears the severe cases, felonies, indictables?"
"Do you mean the Supreme Court?"
"Yes, that's it. The Supreme Court. We call it something different in the United States."
" I have access on my computer to all the courts. You can check here for all types of cases."
"You know, courts are open to the public here in Australia. It's law. Right now we have a murder bond hearing in the courtroom right over there. You can go there and see it."
"Sounds exciting," I replied. But, I've got to run. Lots of things to do while I'm here in Melbourne."
"Oh,by the way, one more question. Can I send someone in and you'd help them if they had a name and date of birth with them? A list, maybe 5, 6 names?"
"Sure, anyone at this window can help them."
"Well then, I think you've answered all my questions. Thanks. And next time I'm in Melbourne I'll be sure to visit."
"You do that. G'day!"