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10 April 2017

 Dr Joe McIntyre. The social and political movement that has seen the rise of Donald Trump poses a real and present danger to Australia’s legal system, a University of South Australia law expert will tell a public forum this week.

In a public lecture on Wednesday 12 April, UniSA Senior Lecturer in Law Dr Joe McIntyre will argue that the disruption and social unease that Trump embodies, could devalue the role and impact of Australia’s courts.

“The Age of Trump has brought a wave of anti-establishment, anti-elitist sentiment across the world, which has shattered many people’s expectations of how social institutions work,” Dr McIntyre says.

“In this climate, all arms of the legal community need to take a role in better communicating the purpose of courts and the benefits they bring.

“We need to promote the idea of courts and the benefits they provide to the community. If the system doesn’t sell itself, or the idea of itself, then we risk seeing a catastrophic collapse of confidence in our legal system.”

According to Dr McIntyre, the Australian judiciary relies upon public confidence to perform its role and times of uncertainty could leave courts vulnerable to speculation of their relevance.

“If the public lose confidence in the judicial process, our legal system is at risk of fragmentation,” he says.

“Courts are anti-majoritarian; judges are unelected; and law is irreducibly complex. Enter Trump and we see an erosion of public trust and an undermining of the court system.

“The challenge is further heightened because courts are increasingly inaccessible to the general public. Costs are rising and civic understanding of the role of courts is low.

“Subtle changes in the community, like the demise of local magistrates courts, police stations, or even the beautiful but crumbling edifice of the Adelaide Supreme Court, all epitomises this.

“Law and the courts are a powerful idea that binds our society together. But ideas need to be articulated, they need to be explained. Until we see this, the idea is vulnerable.”

Dr McIntyre’s lecture, ‘Do Courts Have a Future in the Age of Trump?’, features as part of UniSA’s 2017 Law Evening Research Seminar Series, celebrating the 10th anniversary of the establishment of the UniSA Law School. It will be held from 5.30pm on Wednesday 12 April at the Bradley Forum, Level 5, Hawke Building, City West campus. For more information and to register, please click here.

Contacts for interview: Dr Joe McIntyre office 08 8302 0248 email Joe.McIntyre@unisa.edu.au

Media contact: Annabel Mansfield mobile: 0417 717 504 email: Annabel.Mansfield@unisa.edu.au

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