Judge Borchers: no misconduct but inappropriate conduct

2455 Greg Borchers OKChief Judge of the Darwin Local Court has found no misconduct in Judge Greg Borchers’ dealings with a youth in the Alice Springs Youth Justice Court earlier this year, but his conduct fell short of appropriate judicial conduct and he will be removed from his duties at the youth court.

 

Dr John Lowndes issued a statement today after investigating complaints about Judge Borchers in the matter. He found that Judge Borchers did not accuse a youth of taking advantage of the recent death of his mother in explaining his offending

 

Dr Lowndes found the judge said no such thing, but was only making an observation that no one was exercising parental control over the young person to ensure that he was not roaming the streets at night and was attending school.

 

Other allegations, including that Judge Borchers had been denunciatory and humiliating to the child in the case were also investigated by Dr Lowndes.

 

The Chief Judge rejected this, but said that some of Judge Borchers’ remarks appeared harsh and were misguided. Dr Lowndes said these fell well short of judicial misconduct, although they did amount to inappropriate judicial conduct.

 

p2499t Lowndes, Dr JohnDr Lowndes (right) also rejected claims Judge Borchers shamed the young person, or that an exchange between the Judge and defence counsel was mocking of either the youth or his family.

 

Several other complaints, including that Judge Borchers inappropriately interrogated the grandmother of the young person; ignored helpful information from the defence counsel; pre-emptively snapped any possible connection between the death of the young person’s mother and the offending, and was dismissive of the submissions of defence counsel, were also not found to have been the case.

 

“Although another judge may have handled the young person’s matter differently, the approach taken by Judge Borchers was within the admittedly broad range of what might be considered legitimate in the discharge of the judicial function generally, and in the youth justice context specifically,” Dr Lowndes said.

 

The Chief Judge also examined five other matters, which related to proceedings earlier this year in the Youth Justice Court and the Local Court.

 

“I have formed the view that in a number of matters the judge has not demonstrated the courtesy, tolerance, patience and sensitivity which, in accordance with the AIJA Guide to Judicial Conduct, should necessarily characterise the discharge of the judicial function,” Dr Lowndes said.

 

Some comments made by Judge Borchers were gratuitous and unnecessary and remarks that Dr Lowndes found displayed a lack of judicial temperament.

 

“The judge has been found to have engaged in inappropriate judicial conduct, which is unacceptable,” Dr Lowndes said.

 

“It detracts from the proper performance in the matter at hand, specifically, and it reflects poorly on the courts generally and brings the judiciary into disrepute,” he said.

 

Pursuant to s22 of the Local Court Act the Chief Judge has determined not to assign Judge Borchers duties in the Youth Justice Court in Alice Springs until it is deemed appropriate to re-assign such duties to him.

 

Dr Lowndes said that ideally Judge Borchers should not sit in the Youth Justice Courts elsewhere, including Tennant Creek, but that would not be practical as to do so would mean that the judge would be assigned no circuit work, putting an insuperable burden on the other Alice Springs judges.

 

The Chief Judge has discussed with the judge the option of professional counselling and will arrange counselling should the judge wish to avail himself of such assistance.

 

 

 

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3 Comments (starting with the most recent)

NB: If you want to reply to a previous comment, start your comment with this notation: @n where n is the number of the comment you want to reply to.
  1. GBC
    Posted December 15, 2017 at 10:20 am

    The truth hurts! Unfortunately some people cannot handle or face the truth. However, at times one needs to be cruel to be kind. Well said Judge Borchers, should be more of it.

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  2. Surprised!
    Posted December 12, 2017 at 5:25 pm

    I think the judge did a great job and should be commended on his forthright delivery.
    It’s fine for someone who has clearly not spent time in Tennant Creek or other troubled areas to pass criticism.
    We need more like him and perhaps that will assist in the reduction of crime or at worst show the masses that there is still some justice in the world.

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  3. Peter Dixon
    Posted December 8, 2017 at 9:49 pm

    From the perspective of being in the courtroom on that day some of these findings suggest that a transcript does not convey the full effects of many of the judge’s remarks when heard and observed.

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