Stearman v Taylor [2014] WASC 247

The appellant was charged with refusing to stop the vehicle,  drive while suspended, and refusing to supply his personal details when requested. At the Magistrates Court he claimed that he was entitled to be tried before a jury, but the magistrate stated that the appellant had only been charged with summary offences. 

“There then followed a vigorous exchange between the appellant and the magistrate in which the appellant maintained that he was entitled to a trial by jury under s 80 of the Constitution and the magistrate endeavoured to explain the procedure for conducting a trial in the Magistrates Court. The exchange culminated in the appellant leaving the court, claiming that the magistrate was acting unlawfully.”

The trial proceeded ex parte, and the appellant was convicted on each charge, fined, disqualified for 9 months and ordered to pay the costs of the prosecution. The appellant then applied to set aside the decisions of the magistrate, on the grounds that he had been denied a trial by jury under section 80 of the Constitution.

“The application was heard by on 4 November 2013 by the same magistrate who had convicted the appellant. Again, there was a vigorous exchange between the appellant and the magistrate in which the appellant contended that he had been entitled to a trial by jury under s 80 of the Constitution. The magistrate refused the application.”

The appellant commenced an appeal from his conviction in Stearman v Taylor [2014] WASC 247 on the grounds the magistrate erred in law “when he entered a plea for me and dealt with the offences in summary jurisdiction against my will, therefore placing me into peonage and committing a Tort against me” citing section 80 of the Constitution and Chapter 29 of the Magna Carta. The court held that they were summary offences and not indictable offences and therefore a jury trial was not applicable, and that the magistrate was entitled to proceed to hear and determine the charges once the appellant had left the courtroom.

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