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1-142 (Raw)

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The want of any Court of Criminal Jurisdiction, and of a Court of Civil Jurisdiction of sufficiently extensive powers, renders the situation of the island of Van Diemen's Land truly deplorable. The new Charter has partly provided for its wants by the establishment of the Lieutenant Governor's Court, but as the jurisdiction of this court is wholly civil, and extends only to matters not exceeding the value of fifty pounds, much is still wanted. The expense and difficulty of bringing causes to trial at Sydney, when the parties and witnesses reside at Van Diemen's Land, are so enormous that the honest creditor is not only defrauded but insulted. In criminal cases, similar causes have the effect either of permitting the escape of offenders altogether unpunished, or of sanctioning their punishment contrary to law. It is hardly possible to convey to your Lordship's mind an accurate idea of the state of misrule and uncontrolled profligacy in all classes at that settlement from these and other causes. They render the establishment of distinct Courts of Civil and Criminal Jurisdiction in that island a matter of the most urgent necessity.
Knowing how much the inhabitants of the settlements there are split into parties, I should advise the committing the administration of civil justice in every case whatever might be its nature or amount, in the first instance, to a single judge, provided that judge were a barrister, reserving an appeal in all cases exceeding one hundred pounds in value, to the Supreme Court of Sydney, granting to such judge such powers and authorities as are essential to the effectual administration of justice. The administration of criminal justice I should in all cases entrust to a court to consist of the same judge and a certain number of the magistrates of the island under such provisions as are usual or might be thought necessary.