Linking justice, law and the community

JST203 Punishment and the State students: L-R Danielle Hughes, Callum Cope, Cristine Unguroiu, Paige Fitzpatrick, Carly Elwin, Barrister Bill Walsh, Hywel Blake and Dr Kath McFarlane.

A visit to the Bathurst Courthouse offered a group of CSU law and justice students a local insight into the criminal justice system and highlighted that movies aren’t always a true representation of what happens in the courtroom.

We caught up with first year Bachelor of Criminal Justice student, Alannah Newell, to hear about the visit and find out what really happens in the courtroom.

What was the visit to the Bathurst Courthouse all about?

The visit was designed to expose us to the reality of crime, punishment and sentencing. We were guided by local barrister, former police prosecutor and former CSU lecturer William Walsh who explained how the law works in practice. A highlight was watching District Court Judge James Bennett in action, and witnessing how two different cases were handled.

What did you learn from the visit?

I’ve previously sat in on many local court sessions, in various court houses, as part of my HSC and my University course, however this was my first time entering the district court. I gained a much better understanding of the roles played during a court case, including everyone’s rights and responsibilities, and it definitely defeated the typical courtroom stereotypes that we see in movies.

How has the visit to the Bathurst Courthouse enhanced your learning?

Once I finish my study I’d like to join the NSW Police Force. The visit to the Bathurst Courthouse opened my eyes to how police officers can affect court proceeding, particularly when writing reports from crime scenes. Listening to guest speakers who have been affected by the criminal justice system in some way, whether it be administering or receiving punishment, has really helped my understanding of course content.

What are the perks of pursing a legal career in a rural and regional area?

Those who work in rural and regional areas can form stronger relationships with their colleagues and clients as they get to work face-to-face, which can be very beneficial, especially when it comes time to represent clients. With limited resources you can also be exposed to a much wider range of situations which can make you more versatile.

The CSU Centre for Law and Justice was officially launched at CSU Bathurst on Thursday 25 August 2016, alongside the new Bachelor of Laws degree.