Magistrate 'sick and tired' of Liam Jurrah


p2005-Liam-Jurrah-&-Jon-TipBy KIERAN FINNANE
“I’m sick and tired of Mr Jurrah!” said an irate Magistrate Daynor Trigg before sending the name of the famous footballer to the bottom of the list of matters he’d deal with this morning.
Right: Liam Jurrah in better days, after his 2013 ‘not guilty’ verdict. Jon Tippet QC by his side. 
Liam Jurrah was hoping to again apply for bail after it was denied him last Friday in the Supreme Court.
His lawyer, Shawanah Tasneem from Aboriginal Legal Aid, would not act for him on the bail application but was representing him on the substantive matters, two charges of aggravated assault and two of contravention of a domestic violence order, for which he is being held on remand. The hearing of these matters was set to go ahead on Monday in Hermannsburg.
Mr Jurrah wanted to represent himself for the bail application. Yesterday, Magistrate Sarah McNamara accepted that without comment.
This morning, when he was brought up from the cells, Magistrate Trigg told him with impatience that the application had no merit, as the hearing would be on Monday.
Ms Tasneem asked Magistrate Trigg to nonetheless deal with the application so that she could then address him on the files for the substantive matters.
Magistrate Trigg said he would give him “ten seconds” but it was “a waste of time!” And in any case he would have to wait, as lawyers are given preference on the list, people who are self-represented come last.
Mr Jurrah was standing and attempted to open his mouth. Magistrate Trigg again told him that it was a waste of time: “Now, sit down!”
He’s not getting bail, he told Ms Tasneem, he went to the Supreme Court and was refused, and he was not going to go behind a Supreme Court judge and give him bail.
Ms Tasneem wanted him to at least allow Mr Jurrah to make the application “as a matter of procedural fairness”.
“You go first,” Magistrate Trigg insisted.
Drawing a breath, Ms Tasneem attempted to address the substantive matters, seeking to vacate Monday’s hearing date on the basis that the matters would proceed by way of plea. Magistrate Trigg interrupted and she said with some exasperation, “If I may finish”.
That was it! Matter stood down: “I’m not going to take rudeness from you!” And out he went.
Mr Jurrah was taken back down to the cells and the court was adjourned. That was his bail application: not a word said.
Ten or so minutes later, after a quiet suggestion from Crown prosecutor Isabella Maxwell-Williams to the court orderlies, Mr Jurrah’s file, with Magistrate Trigg’s assent, was sent across to Magistrate John Birch.
Magistrate Birch told Mr Jurrah that his applications had been refused by Justice Hiley and again by Magistrate Trigg and that he had exhausted his right to apply.
His guilty pleas to the substantive matters will now be heard in Alice Springs next Tuesday, 1 September.


  1. Magistrate Trigg,
    I commend you for your actions. It’s about time the justice system got tough on offenders, no matter who they are.
    Lets see, Jurrah is [a defendant] of aggravated assault and breaching a domestic violence order. Why does he think he is above the law. Well done Magistrate Trigg for putting Jurrah in his place.
    To the Aboriginal Legal Aid, bout time that a magistrate doesn’t let you crap on about how the offender is the victim. I just wish it happened more often.
    I hope other magistrates take the same approach.

  2. @ Scotty.
    “His place”? The place of any defendant prior to conviction is supposed to be equal in the eyes of the law.
    A defence lawyer has a job to do, which is to act on behalf of his or her client. In the episode reported the defence lawyer acting for Mr Jurrah was scarcely allowed to get in a word. What she was able to get in was that her client would be pleading guilty. There was no “crapping on” and no proposition that her client was “the victim”.

  3. It was great that the Magistrate in this matter had no patience and did not let the defence lawyer “to get a word in”. We all know it would have been excuse after excuse.
    Well done by lawyer as you point out, the defendant plead guilty … So he is guilty. You do the crime you do the time.
    So sick of people standing up for the offenders.

  4. @ Scotty and Kieran: With no disrespect to the Magistrate’s Court and the defendant, this sounded like a never ending circus.
    True, true indigenous defendants who appear before the bench on matters have a hard time, and the reason why the jails are overcrowded, BUT both sides should start to show some respect.
    A question which somebody could answer, why did Liam have a legal aid lawyer when he was represented previously by Jon Tippet?

  5. Yes, how much are we supposed to take before it gets through to some people that they have to take responsibility for their own actions, be they black or white? Does the law allow people to be violent and get away with it?
    By the way, this comment will go around the world.

  6. Bev, I agree with what you say completely. As you point out Jurrah was represented previously by Jon Tippet. I think every sensible individual is just sick of his illegal actions and as shown by his criminal history, not everyone can change for the better.
    Kieran, if you believe that every defendant prior to conviction is equal in the eye of the law you are very gullible.
    Your prior criminal history does effect your bail consideration.
    This is why Jurrah was remanded and why the magistrate did not show any leniency towards his bail application at a later date.

  7. @ Scotty. Either Mr Jurrah had a right to make a bail application or he didn’t; either he had a right to represent himself or he didn’t. As it was he was not allowed to utter a word. A mockery was made of the process.
    That is a separate question to the merit or otherwise of the bail application, where of course his past record would be a consideration. Due process is supposed to be a strength of the the system which we are asking people to respect.

  8. Spot on Kieran, well said. Magistrate Trigg out of order on this one. He should go for a long bike ride in Europe to rebalance himself.

  9. Kieran and Ian,
    I believe Jurrah had his bail refused in the Supreme Court. Why would Magistrate Trigg grant bail?
    The only mockery is that Jurrah keeps on committing crimes and people like yourself and Ian find ways to blame others.
    By the way Magistrate Trigg has served on the bench for a number of years. He is a valuable member of society and a person who should be thanked for his service.
    But I suppose that still won’t change your view that offenders are victims somehow. Grow up and feel sorry for the real victims that Jurrah assaulted. He is going to plead guilty for a reason you know (You talk about respect, go have a word to Jurrah about respecting the law).

  10. Well judged Magistrates Trigg and Birch, and may I say an appropriate headline would be: Judge with guts at last.

  11. I have had some experience of the way our courts operate.
    I completely appreciate Kieran’s comment.
    There should be exactly the same process in place for everybody accused of a crime.
    I have to say however that I am growing increasingly tired of the pomposity of too many in the legal professions and their acting as if they never make a mistake.
    We have the likes of John Lawrence SC in Darwin, elected by nobody, ranting almost incoherently on the evils of the current government.
    I have heard a practicing officer of the court and a retired magistrate tell the world of the inadequacies of our system and the glories of the traditional Aboriginal system which executed the accused or subjected them to what the UN would call torture with no process whatsoever of objectively ascertaining guilt or innocence.
    Such people can obviously make serious mistakes. And when they do it usually benefits the perpetrators rather than the victim of a crime.
    I once witnessed a very clever lawyer with substantial experience in Aboriginal organisations use this impressive knowledge and experience to make some of the most naively honest people I know, the victims of an attempt on their lives, look like bumbling liars to get his Aboriginal client off the conviction that, in my opinion, he richly deserved.
    Since the victims of this crime were my own loved ones I was physically sickened by the inadequacies a system not at all designed to get at the truth but instead designed to allow the prize to go to the cleverest.
    It was patiently explained to me that the defence lawyer was just doing his job.
    He was just cleverer than the prosecutor.
    Small comfort to me and the confused victims who I had convinced that the system would deliver them justice.
    I was naive too. May God protect the innocent from unelected activist lawyers.
    Whatever system we have all of those involved, all of those learned professionals, will from time to time, get it wrong. I know it ain’t easy.
    My one experience of jury duty also taught me how damned challenging and difficult the job of a jury is.
    A good dose of jury duty should make all of those who jump to condemn decisions of courts think a little deeper about the issues before they comment on stories like this. None of it is easy.
    But if a mistake has been made it’s great to see it benefitting the victim for a change. This very rarely happens most especially in the case of female victims of male violence.
    I’d like to see more of such errors if we can’t altogether avoid them.

  12. My bet is that magistrate Trigg will probably get into trouble for saying something that most law abiding citizens all secretly or passionately gave a large cheer upon hearing!
    What a strange world that we live in!


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