Last year Crikey mooted the idea of creating a Robing Room, where lawyers and other users of the Australian court system could share their stories about the quirks, foibles and talents of judicial officers. The idea, we should add, is not original. It’s based on a highly successful US model.

Our first Robing Room entrant is Darwin magistrate Daynor Trigg. Even by the colourful standards of the NT Mr Trigg is a stand out beak, highlighted by his jailing earlier this year of a 17-year-old youth whose mobile phone rang to the tune of a well known rapper while he was in Mr Trigg’s Darwin courtroom.

According to an NT News story on May 21 here’s what happened:

Mr Trigg warned everyone in the court after a mobile phone had rung — a common occurrence in courts these days — to make sure their phones were off.

A few minutes later a 17-year-old man let his mobile ring with the music of American rapper Akon before he answered the call while sitting in the front row of the court.

“When the teen’s phone initially rang, Mr Trigg immediately yelled: “If I hear one more word from you, you’re going to be in custody.”

Mr Trigg then apparently ‘yelled’ at the teen, “How dare you answer a phone in court … that allows transmissions from court … which is a serious contempt,”” the NT News reported.

The young man apologised, albeit it seems a little to casually, for having his phone turned on and then said after again being upbraided by the irate Mr Trigg, “My bad, next time I’ll know.”

The young man’s attitude, despite the apology, did not please Mr Trigg, who ordered him to be taken into custody for three hours for contempt of court. “Don’t talk back to me. Go into custody. Get a guard, take him into custody,” Mr Trigg demanded.

When at 12.46pm the young man came back into court and apologised for having his phone on and ‘backchatting’ Mr Trigg accepted his apology but then added this little homily:

“One of the problems that seems to be developing within our community is that there is so much time devoted by schools and others to telling people what their rights are, without the corresponding lessons being taught as to what people’s obligations are,” he said.

This is not the only time Mr Trigg has graced the pages of the NT News this year. Last month he suggested the NT government could build a proposed new prison in a low income Darwin street because it was a hotbed of crime.

Mr Trigg, according to a report in the NT News on July 31, said of Cornwallis Cct in Palmerston, a street of predominantly public housing, that:

“If they are looking … to find a new place to build a prison, perhaps they should build a remand centre at Cornwallis Cct since most of the offenders seem to be there,” he said. “It must be a lovely street.”

One assumes Mr Trigg will disqualify himself from hearing any future cases where the alleged offender lives in Cornwallis Court?

If you have a suggestion for inclusion in Crikey’s Robing Room, send details to [email protected] with “robing room” in the subject field. All tips will be treated with complete confidentiality.

Peter Fray

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Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey

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