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Rare interview: Chief judge speaks out against mandatory sentencing

Victoria’s chief judge has described mandatory sentencing as “blind” and would put judges in difficult positions.

And he couldn’t tell Neil Mitchell how he will react himself.

In a rare and wide-ranging interview, Chief Judge of the County Court Peter Kidd SC discussed the impact mandatory sentencing would have on the judiciary.

“The approach to individualised justice is designed to ensure there is a just and appropriate sentence in every case,” Mr Kidd said.

“Mandatory sentencing is in fact, the very opposite.

“Part of it cannot work.

“It says in certain cases where mercy is justified, mercy cannot be shown.”

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Neil asked Mr Kidd how he would feel if mandatory sentencing was legislated.

“I think some judges will experience great difficulty in having to impose mandatory sentencing,” he said.

“History has demonstrated in other jurisdictions where mandatory sentencing has been applied, that judges have at least experienced profound frustrations at the process.

“Where I am confronted with a sentence which I think is an unjust sentence then I will find that very difficult, but I can only tell you how I feel about that when I am confronted by it.”

Neil Mitchell described the discussion as ‘a highly unusual interview’.

“He wasn’t mucking around,” Neil said.

“He confronted the issue, the issue of mandatory sentencing, head on.”