Doing Downing Centre justice
In this intriguing new series, which puts cameras in Sydney’s Downing Centre courtrooms for the first time, you get the sense the various defendants aren’t the ones who feel like they’re on trial.
“The Downing Centre is the real world,” says Deputy Chief Magistrate Chris O’Brien. “What happens here is a snapshot of what is happening in the broader community. (Judicial officers have) more grasp of what the real world is than those that criticise them for not being in it.”
If you suspect the robed officers of the court are sensitive about this issue and are actually grateful for the chance to be observed working up close, I think you’d be right.
In this opening episode, we meet boxer Garth Wood, who you may recall defeated Anthony Mundine by knockout in 2010. Here he is facing charges related to a street brawl where he says he was defending a friend and himself. Court Justice
For non-lawyers, the rules of the courtroom seem like an alternative universe. For example, the magistrate has to urge Wood repeatedly to suppress his manners and reveal what his assailant called him — a series of unprintable expletives — but is stopped in his tracks when he inadvertently calls her honour “darl”.
A women is on trial for breaching an apprehended violence order taken out by her neighbour in a public housing estate. He has a recording that purports to reveal her threatening him. They seem to have her dead to rights, but is all as it seems?
It also must be said that the Downing Centre building — originally a Mark Foy’s department store built in 1908 — is made for TV, even if the accused are too preoccupied to appreciate the architecture. Sunday, 7.30pm, CI.
Sydney’s Downing Centre courthouse complex is the real-life setting for