2020 SLJ Research Seminar Series

You are warmly invited to the next seminar for 2020 in the SLJ Research Seminar Series on Thursday 20 August 2020 at 12.00pm. This will be an online seminar only hosted by the Zoom platform. Our presenter is SLJ Practice Professor and Adjunct, Mr David Heilpern, former magistrate, lawyer and academic.

Links to the seminar recording will be posted when available.


Title: Police Discretion and Democracy – crossing the thin blue line.

Abstract: The police budget is one line – $4 billion. So how do we ensure that this money is spent reflecting community or parliamentary values and priorities? In NSW we don’t. While of course there are good reasons that politicians do not interfere with individual investigations and prosecutions by police, there needs to be accountability institutionally and individually.

Institutionally, I am focusing my research on the following areas:

  • Drug driving law verses effective road safety measures
  • Drug law enforcement verses domestic and family violence investigation
  • Institutionalised racism in policing priorities
  • Internal police investigations – policing the police

Individually, I am focusing my research on a series of statements by the Police Commissioner regarding:

  • Pill testing
  • An assault on a first nations child in Surry Hills in April 2020
  • The issuing of a Criminal Infringement Notice (fine) to Don Harwin MP
  • Statements linking BLM marches and rallies to Corona Virus.

I treat this research seminar as an opportunity to share these threads with a view to getting feedback, criticism, ideas and comments from my learned colleagues, as well as a forum for linking with any related research within the school. For this reason, I intend to speak for about 35 minutes, and leave lots of time for interaction. So please, prepare your input

Biography: David Heilpern was appointed as a Magistrate in 1998, and was at the time the youngest magistrate in Australia. He sat in the criminal, mining, family, industrial, coronial and children’s jurisdictions of the Local Court, and was the Senior Civil Magistrate for five years. During his time on the bench, David was the principal educator for new magistrates throughout Australia and the Pacific and made several important reported decisions on criminal, environmental and evidence law.

Prior to his appointment, David was a litigation lawyer on the North Coast where he co-founded the law school at Southern Cross University, rising to becoming the Acting Dean in 1996. He maintained a litigation practice throughout this time, representing a wide range of defendants including high profile clients North East Forest Alliance and Nimbin Hemp. During this time David graduated with a Masters in Law and was pronounced the Alumni of the Decade for the University in 2005.

David has written four published books, three of which have now had multiple editions, dozens of refereed journal articles, and is a prize-winning short story writer and poet.