A legal academic says the ACT's lawmakers must revisit reforms that abolish the option for defendants to be tried by judge alone, reviving concerns the reforms are incompatible with human rights.
But the ACT Government says the reforms do not flout the territory's Human Rights Act.
Writing in the Canberra Law Review, Bond University academic Jodie O'Leary said the reforms left open the possibility jury trials could be ''irredeemably prejudiced'' by media attention.
''Without the ability to hold a judge-alone trial, some notorious accused may attract levels of publicity that inevitably preclude any fair trial before a jury,'' she said.
Without the option of a judge-alone trial, the only remaining alternative would be a stay on proceedings, which could have the opposite effect of further undermining community confidence in the justice system.
The often-controversial new laws, which were passed in the Legislative Assembly in June, make jury trials the default for defendants charged with serious offences such as murder and rape in the Supreme Court.
Attorney-General Simon Corbell has described the previous legal regimen, which allowed defendants to choose a trial by jury or by judge alone, as ''patronising''.
But defence lawyers have voiced concern and the ACT's top judge, Supreme Court Chief Justice Terence Higgins, warned in March last year that the reforms - which were proposals then - could breach the Human Rights Act.
Assistant Professor O'Leary suggested the Assembly could amend the legislation to include the Liberal opposition's proposals, which would give the court discretion to decide if a defendant could have a judge-alone trial.
She said the other alternative would be allowing judge-alone trials only with the consent of the attorney-general or prosecution.
The researcher said the Assembly needed to revisit the issue ''sooner rather than later'' if MLAs wanted to inspire confidence in the community and in defendants that justice was not only done but seen to be done.
A spokeswoman for the Justice and Community Safety Directorate said, ''The Government believes that amendments made in 2011 to ensure the most serious offences are heard by a judge, together with a jury, are compatible with human rights''.
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