JUDICIARY PROCEDURES FOR 2013
COUNTRY RUGBY LEAGUE
JUDICIARY COMMITTEE MANUAL
Judiciary Committees are responsible for one of the most essential and one of the most misunderstood functions of any Country Rugby League competition. The easiest way to avoid becoming familiar with the operations of the Judiciary Committee is to play the game within the rules but human nature being what it is there will always be someone who didn’t control their temper or didn’t play the game within the rules. When the Referee dismisses a player from the field of play under Section 15 of the laws of the game (Misconduct), the actions of the player are then referred to the Judiciary Committee to consider the evidence brought before them in a clinical fashion and then make findings of fact based on the evidence presented at the hearing. If the Judiciary Panel arrive at a conclusion that the player is guilty of the charge/s against him, the Judiciary will then determine what a suitable penalty for the player’s indiscretions will be. While legal practitioners expect the formality of the civil judicial system, a rugby league judiciary should be conducted less formally and allow flexibility, if flexibility provides for the all the relevant evidence to be brought forth.
The Judiciary Committee is obligated to observe the rules of ‘natural justice’ and ‘procedural fairness’ which requires the player;
knowing what he is accused of before the hearing
having the right to question any evidence presented against him
having the right to present his version of events & produce witnesses to support his version
receiving a judgement based solely on the evidence presented at his hearing
The information contained in this manual is intended to clarify the judiciary process for the player and provide support for the volunteer on the Judiciary Committee. Every Group and Division in the Country Rugby League will have its own standards and ideally by applying the same standards to every case brought before it, the Judiciary Committee will achieve the consistency that fairness requires. The end result is to make the game of rugby league safer to play and deter players from engaging in conduct outside the rules.
The Judiciary Committee function is not limited to players being sent from the field of play – other matters can be referred to them for decision by a Group / Division Management Committee.
The content of this manual owes much to: the paper written by Mr Allan Sullivan QC – "The Rugby League Judiciary"; the "Greater Southern Region Judiciary Policy" compiled by Mr Kevin Felgate (CRL Greater Southern RAM) and Mr Mick Davies (McGuire and McInerney Solicitors and Lawyers); and the guidance of Mr Kevin Pearce (Senior Partner of Aubrey Brown & Partners Lawyers) ,Mr Jim Swanson (Retired Magistrate: NSW Department of Attorney General and Justice) and Mr Tony Goldman (10 years service CRL Appeals Committee), John Riordan (CRL Legal Advisor and South Sydney Judiciary Chairman).
Having been dismissed from the field of play, the player and his club should immediately focus on what lies ahead. The rules require the player to retire to the dressing shed and change out of his playing uniform immediately after being sent from the field; he should do exactly that without any further interaction or comment to any Match Officials. Further breaches of the rules, whether they are National Code of Conduct violations or otherwise, will only make the player’s situation worse.
It’s the player’s responsibility to obtain a copy of the Referee’s Dismissal Report at the conclusion of the game and if possible, arrange to obtain a copy of the match video and organise witnesses to be present at the Judiciary hearing. It’s important the player takes the approach that ALL evidence supporting his defence is available to be presented in his defence at the time of the Judiciary hearing.
It’s recommended that the player (or his advocate) compare the details of the charge contained in the Referee’s Dismissal Report with;
The International Laws of Rugby League (Section 15; Misconduct)
What any available video footage shows
What information that reliable witnesses can testify to
Prior to the hearing inquire with the Group / Division to ensure the appropriate equipment will be available to view match footage at the hearing and have a full un-edited version of the match at the hearing. Where no video footage is available then eye-witness testimony can be considered. If, however, the witness was not in a better position to view the incident than the Match Officials then the evidence will probably have less influence on the outcome. The reliability of the witnesses will not go un-noticed by the Judiciary Panel so attempt to present reliable witnesses. The Judiciary Panel will be obligated to make a decision based on the rules however an honest approach by the player that’s supported by evidence can minimise the severity of a penalty. 4
Obtain written personal character references from reputable sources. In some circumstances where there is doubt as to the players guilt, references might persuade the Judiciary Panel in the favour of the player. If the player is found guilty of the charge there should be an opportunity to present references to assist in the determination of a suitable penalty. Having someone who holds the player in enough regard to provide a written reference is more influential than having the player’s advocate tell the Judiciary Panel what a ‘nice person’ he normally is and how he helps around the club and escorts old ladies over busy roads. As comical as this sounds it is typical of what some advocates will present to the Judiciary Panel when asked to substantiate the player’s good character – prepare for the worst and obtain written references from employers, school teachers, respected members of the community.
Obtain written confirmation from the club, the school, the Representative Team Coach of what games the player is scheduled to play in the coming weeks / months. These will also allow the Judiciary Panel to arrive at a suitable penalty if the player is found guilty.
Finally, appear at the Judiciary hearing the same way you would attend any important occasion; dressed tidily in clean clothes. If you can’t change out of soiled work-clothes because of time constraints, explain your situation and offer an apology to the Judiciary Chairman. The respect you convey to the Judiciary Panel and the witnesses involved in the hearing might be the difference in receiving a warning or receiving a suspension. The Judiciary Panel is looking for signs you will be deterred from repeating the offence – being arrogant and disrespectful are not signs of remorse or maturity and could influence the Judiciary Panel that a suspension from the game is necessary to discourage you from repeating your mistake.
Be aware that quite often a player will only get one chance to present his defence – get it right the first time and ‘leave no stone unturned’.
The Judiciary Panel
Similarly to the advice to the player, the members of the Judiciary Panel should present themselves to the Judiciary hearing in a clean and tidy state. Arrive early to the venue and check that all equipment likely to be used is in working order (i.e. video and audio equipment is operational and spare batteries and the like are on hand if required). Review the order of hearings and check all the necessary documentation is on hand. Always have access to a pen and paper and note down important aspects of evidence and who presented the evidence. This will assist with cross-examinations and reviewing testimonies and allow a methodical approach to making decisions.
Access to drinking water is a benefit to the Judiciary Panel as well as nervous defendants and witnesses alike.
As defined in the Group / Division constitution, if a Judiciary Panel member is currently associated with the same club as the player or has a personal association with the player, the member should not sit in judgement on the 5
matter. He / she should disclose the conflict of interest and be excused from the hearing before the charge is read. If time permits a replacement member should be found. If a Judiciary Panel member has a recognised association with a person involved in the hearing be it the accused or a witness, there is the potential for it to be perceived as having an influence on their ability to make a fair judgement.
The Judiciary member should not decide on the outcome of any hearing until all the evidence has been delivered regardless of any pre-knowledge or information they may have regarding the matter before them. If by chance a member of the Judiciary Panel did witness the incident, they should disclose their attendance at the game and refrain from any comment on what they saw unless the player (or his advocate) is in attendance. The Panel member should also agree to cross-examination after giving any evidence if requested. The importance of this position is the requirement that the outcome of the hearing should reflect the evidence presented therefore the Judiciary Panel must only consider evidence presented in the proper manner. Any description of what a witness saw in the absence of the accused player (or his advocate) is not the proper manner for evidence to be presented and must not be considered when a judgement is made.
Treat everyone associated with the matter with respect and tolerance – the Judiciary hearing can be a stressful environment and stress can make some people appear rude and uncommunicative. By conducting the proceedings as informally as possible the Judiciary Panel will have a better opportunity to put everyone at ease and expose all the facts relevant to the hearing.
Be focused on the charge specified in the dismissal report presented and avoid any diversions away from the specific charge. The primary aim of the Judiciary Panel is to make findings of fact and any outcome is not solely to punish the player rather to discourage or deter the player or any other players from engaging in similar conduct in the future.
In the event that a Statutory Declaration is submitted as evidence, the Judiciary Chairman needs to consider whether the contents of the declaration should be accepted unless the signatory of the declaration is available for cross examination. Doctor’s certificates are permitted as evidence. All written evidence needs to be considered with regard to the accuracy of the contents and the importance to establishing the facts (relative to the charge) that it provides. In this regard the Judiciary Panel needs to make decisions as to how important any errors in the dismissal report or other documents might be in relation to the charge the player is appearing for. The correct nomination of the offence; the correct identification of the player/ players involved and the document signed accordingly are considered to be critical – no flexibility on these aspects should be afforded.
Finally, while the CRL policy requires a date for a suspension to end, the Judiciary Panel is allowed to consider how many games a suspension will entail when they set a date for a suspension to end and can word the Judiciary Report to reflect their decision including the date the suspension ends.
The Match Officials
The first step for the Match Officials (the Referee and his Touch Judges) at the conclusion of a game where a player was dismissed from the field is to complete the Dismissal Report accurately. It’s important the specific charge details are true and correct and factual if further action is going to arise from the incident for which the player was dismissed for. With the lack of Referees currently being experienced it’s quite likely the Match Officials will be scheduled for duty in the following game – complete the Dismissal Report personally before the next game while everything is fresh in your mind and if possible write brief notes about the incident. Five minutes spent completing the report properly will save time in the long term and is a minimal interruption to the day’s schedule. Ensure that all the relevant information is recorded to ensure the player is in the position to know the facts and prepare his defence accordingly.
When the Match Officials attend the Judiciary hearing they act as the witnesses for the League and will be expected to present the necessary information that resulted in the player being dismissed from the field. This information (which must be factual and objective) forms the basis in determining a suitable penalty, if proven, for the offence. Just as a player is permitted to have a person of his choosing represent him, the Match Officials should also be allowed to have a support person with them when they present their evidence. A number of Referee’s Associations appoint a person especially to this role to oversee that the evidence delivered by the Match Officials to the Judiciary is appropriate and reflects the situation that brought the incident to the attention of the Judiciary Panel. The Referee is entitled to present any evidence that supports the charge being levelled at the player including video footage, testimony from the Touch Judges or a player that was involved in an incident including any medical reports on injuries received that can be proven to have occurred as a result of the incident.
The Judiciary Panel will expect to hear a clear recollection from the Referee or Touch Judges – their role is to give their recollections to the hearing and answer questions without fear or favour. The action of dismissing the player from the field was done to ensure the safety of other players or to deter other players from similar behaviour. By providing the Judiciary Panel with a clinical and factual report on the player’s actions the Referee is allowing the Judiciary Panel to determine the best course of action to take as a consequence of the player being dismissed from the field.
Whether the Match Officials agree with an outcome of a Judiciary hearing is not important only that they performed their role to the best of their ability with concern for the safety of the participants and the image of the game of rugby league. Match Officials would be in breach of their Duty of Care should they overlook an incident in preference to attending the Judiciary.
Recommended Judiciary Procedures
1. Match Day
The player must receive a copy of the Referee’s dismissal report, either personally or via a representative of his club, from the Match Official at the completion of the game. It is the player’s responsibility to ensure they receive a copy of the dismissal report.
The Referee’s dismissal report should stipulate the specific details of the charge the player was dismissed for (with direct reference to the appropriate sub-part(s) of Section 15 of the International Laws of the Game) and be signed by the Match Referee who dismissed the player.
2. The Judiciary Hearing
The player must attend the next Judiciary Hearing as scheduled by the Group or Division unless he has signed the dismissal report or a similar authority to indicate he chooses not to contest the charge and waives his right to present a defence. That hearing should be scheduled as early in the week as practical allowing for the player to prepare a proper defence and at a venue suitable for conducting the hearing with the appropriate discretion.
If the player fails to attend the judiciary hearing without notice or a suitable reason then the hearing into his dismissal will be suspended until a later date and the player will be ineligible to participate in any rugby league until he has attended the Judiciary Hearing. An exception to this circumstance is when the player enters an early plea of guilty to the charge in writing and waives his right to defend the charge and influence the outcome of the hearing.
A Judiciary Panel of at least three members and no more than five members will convene to hear the charge against the player.
No registered player or active referee is eligible to sit on a Judiciary Panel. A Judiciary Panel member cannot adjudicate on a matter involving a Club he or she is associated with. If a Judiciary Panel member has witnessed the incident the player was dismissed from the field for, then he or she should only comment on the incident in the presence of the player (or his advocate) and then must be available for cross-examination by the player or his advocate. A Judiciary Panel member must inform their League of any conflict of interest that may be perceived as being prejudicial to a case involving that
member. The Panel member’s involvement in that case will then be determined by their League.
At the commencement of the Judiciary Hearing, the Judiciary Chairman should outline the sequence that the judiciary proceedings will take and establish the roles of the people present at the hearing. Apart from the player (and his advocate) and the Referee (and his advocate) only the Judiciary Panel should be present in the room at this point.
A player has the choice of either representing himself at the Judiciary hearing or being represented by an advocate of his choosing. If he decides to represent himself then the advocate would be restricted to the role of an advisor to the player and would not be permitted to address the Judiciary Panel or question any witnesses who may be called to give evidence to the Judiciary Panel.
The Match Referee must attend the Judiciary Hearing and outline the circumstances through which the player was dismissed.
If the Referee fails to attend the hearing then the player is entitled to plead "not guilty" and on the basis of "no evidence" he should be exonerated from the charge contained in the dismissal report
When the Judiciary Panel Chairman has approved that the Referee is to be permitted to deliver his evidence via telephone or electronic means
When a player is cited to appear before the Judiciary Panel as a result of a charge being brought against the player by the constituent league
e.g. alleged misconduct by the player that has brought the game into disrepute.
When a player is cited to appear before the Judiciary Panel as the result of a complaint from a constituent club
except in the following circumstances;
After the Chairman has outlined the sequence the hearing will follow, any charge against the player should be read to the player (and/or his advocate) and confirmation received from
the player that he is aware of the charge and its implications. After the Judiciary Panel has received that confirmation then the player should be asked to plead either guilty or not guilty to the charge/s.
If the player is not fully aware of the charge or the implications of the charge he is entitled to have the matter adjourned until he has had the opportunity to prepare his defence against the charge. If the charge arose from being dismissed from the field of play then an adjournment does not allow the player to continue playing until the matter is settled. If the charge arose as a result of an inquiry into a complaint from a constituent club then the player would have been aware of the charge by attending the inquiry and logically the evidence presented at the inquiry was strong enough to warrant him being referred to the Judiciary Committee. That being the case the Chairman of the inquiry must decide whether the player is suspended from playing until the matter is resolved at the Judiciary hearing.
3. Guilty Plea
If the player pleads guilty to the charge then the Judiciary Panel is entitled to receive any appropriate information that would assist them in determining a penalty, if applicable. The player should then be permitted to deliver evidence that may influence the Judiciary Panel when finalising a penalty. Such evidence may include playing history and written personal references.
The player (and his advocate) should then leave the hearing while the Judiciary Panel determines an appropriate penalty. Once a decision has been reached the player and his advocate are recalled to the Judiciary Hearing whereupon the Judiciary Panel’s decision with regard to any penalty is announced to the player.
It’s generally accepted that a "guilty" plea receives a lighter sentence than pleading "not guilty" and then being found guilty.
4. Not Guilty Plea
If the player pleads not guilty to the charge then the Judiciary Panel will receive testimony from the Referee (and Touch
Judges) and any evidence to assist them with establishing the player’s innocence or guilt.
Once the Judiciary Panel have finished examining a witness, the player or his advocate may cross-examine the evidence in the presence of the Judiciary Panel (and under guidelines given by the Chairman).
At the completion of all testimonies from the Referee and possibly the Touch Judges, the player should then be afforded the opportunity to present any evidence by way of video or testimony to prove his innocence.
The player (or his advocate if that’s the case) is entitled to identify relevant points during the viewing of any video evidence.
Witnesses should be called one at a time to provide testimony to the Judiciary Panel.
The Judiciary Panel is entitled to question all witnesses during the process of evidence being presented to them. The Match Officials or their advocate are also permitted to cross-examine the player’s witnesses.
After giving their evidence all witnesses should remain in the hearing until all evidence is presented. Once all available evidence has been presented to the Judiciary Panel, everyone including the player and his advocate should then leave the hearing and allow the Judiciary Panel to arrive at a decision of either guilty or not guilty.
By retaining witnesses in the hearing until all evidence is tabled the risk of collusion between witnesses is minimised. In the event that a witness must leave the hearing prior to the conclusion of evidence being tabled, the Chairman can arrange for their departure without interaction with other witnesses present.
**** The acceptable position when making a decision as to whether the player is guilty of the charge/s or not is that the Judiciary Panel need to be comfortably satisfied the charge is proven or the player is not guilty.
5. The Judiciary Panel Decision
Once the Judiciary Panel are reasonably satisfied with a decision then the player and his advocate (and the referee if
he so chooses) should be recalled before the Judiciary Panel to hear the outcome of the Judiciary Panel’s deliberations. If the decision supports the player’s innocence then he is free to leave the hearing with no addition to his record.
If the decision is that the player has been found guilty of the charge then the player should be entitled to produce evidence that may present him as a person of good character such as his previous history or written personal references.
At this time, the player or his advocate are entitled to make the Judiciary Panel aware of any upcoming playing commitments he has such as representative or school matches and also inquire as to the potential to have fines or other measures considered as an alternative to a suspension from playing the game. It’s completely at the discretion of the Judiciary Panel as to whether any alternatives are acceptable in the circumstances.
After presenting any such evidence the player and his advocate should again leave the hearing and allow the Judiciary Panel to finalise any penalty. Once the Judiciary Panel has arrived at a penalty then the player and his advocate are again recalled to the hearing to receive the Judiciary Panel’s decision as to the penalty to be imposed.
The Judiciary Panel should
nominate a date
by which a fine, monetary costs or expenses are to be paid or when a suspension or disqualification will end.
A complete record of all proceedings is to be kept (i.e. book or electronic filing systems) specifically for the purpose of recording judiciary matters.
All evidence received by the Judiciary should be recorded in writing and / or audio sound equipment and retained until the completion of the matter taking into account the time allowed to appeal a decision. Copies of the transcript / written judiciary records and/ or audio can be provided to the player upon request for the purpose of review for which to base an appeal.
6. The Right to Appeal a Judiciary Decision
Any player found guilty of an offence has the right to appeal the decision of the Judiciary Committee and has 48 hours
from the time of the decision to lodge an appeal to the Group or Divisional or Regional "Appeals Committee".
The formal letter (Appeal Request) should be accompanied by a $400 fee that at the discretion of the "Appeals Committee" could be retained in the General Fund of the Group or Division or may be refunded in whole or part depending on circumstances.
If after analysing all the information, the "Appeals Review" finds the player does have cause for an Appeal Hearing to go ahead then the Appeals Committee will be convened to rehear the player’s case as a complete new hearing; that is the case is to be heard again from start to finish.
Only fresh evidence or a denial of natural justice should be considered as reasonable cause to grant an Appeal Hearing and ideally the player should identify which part of the original evidence the fresh evidence will change.
An appeal to the Appeals Committee doesn’t operate as a stay of proceedings from any Judiciary sentence.
The Appeals Committee has the authority to uphold or dismiss an appeal and may increase or decrease any penalties already imposed or replace any penalties with its own in the form of a fine, suspension, disqualification or otherwise.
7. Final Avenue of Appeal
Under Section 31 of the CRL Constitution, if a player wants to appeal against the decision of a Group / Divisional/ Regional
Appeals Committee or the outcome of an Appeal Review, he will then need to lodge a formal request to the CRL through his Group or Divisional Secretary within 48 hours of the Appeals Committee decision.
The request should be accompanied by a fee of $400 which the CRL Appeals Board can retain at their discretion. The requirements of the CRL Appeals Board are the same as for the Group / Divisional / Regional Appeals Committee – a requirement to provide fresh evidence that wasn’t previously available. The CRL Appeals Board has the right to grant a hearing if they feel the player has been denied natural justice or there has been a non-observance of the rules by the adjudicating body or a technical failure of equipment has denied the player the opportunity to prove his innocence.
will be disallowed. If the Chairman makes an error in due procedure there is scope to lodge an appeal based on that error if it can be demonstrated the error prevented the player receiving a fair hearing.
written and signed
Section 48 of the Model Group Constitution) however the signatory might still be required to attend a Judiciary hearing in person to deliver evidence and be available for cross-examination.
produce sufficient evidence to allow the Judiciary Panel or any Committee conducting an inquiry to be comfortably satisfied the allegations are true. The responsibility for presenting that evidence is on the complainant.
Q – Can the referee or a club citing a player ask for a severe sentence?
3:i ), any other appeal arising from a Judiciary Committee decision other than by a player needs to be directed to the Country Rugby League and would only be considered if there was reason to believe the Judiciary process used was flawed. As with all appeals, evidence would need to be part of the letter asking for an appeal in this circumstance – the severity (or lack of severity
Q – Who decides who hears an Appeal?
. Q – What can someone do if all avenues of appeal have not delivered the outcome they believe is the right one?
Q - What action can the player take if the hearing was conducted properly but the penalty was too severe?
Q – Does a player need permission from his club to lodge an appeal?
) of the sentence should still not be considered to be reason for an appeal hearing to be granted.
In essence, everyone has the right to appeal a decision of a sub-committee depending on the circumstances but no appeal is guaranteed and the appellant risks losing the appeal fee if the appeal is deemed to be frivolous.
Q- What can a player do if new evidence is discovered after the time limit to appeal has expired?
Q - Can the same person who did the Appeal Review sit on the Appeal Committee?
keep accurate notes / written records and preferably audio recordings as well to allow the Appeal Review to establish if a fair hearing was provided to the player.
. Q – Why is an appeal dependant on fresh evidence?
Q – If a player is being penalised by his club for misconduct, does that excuse him from being penalised by the Judiciary Committee?
Q – Why is a suspension set to a date and not the number of games?
Q- Why do players get different sentences for the same offence?
Q- What influences the severity of the sentence?
Q – Can eye gouging, biting allegations or racial complaints only be made as "on-field complaints"?
Q – What’s the difference between ‘misconduct’ when a referee dismisses a player from the field and ‘misconduct’ when a player is cited by a Management Committee to appear before the Judiciary?
Q - Are statutory declarations acceptable as evidence?
Q- Is it true that only the complete match video should be permitted as evidence?
Q – Why should the Referee still be allowed to give evidence to the Judiciary Panel on an early guilty plea?
What is the advantage of an early guilty plea?
Q – Does the player have to enter a plea of ‘guilty’ or ‘not guilty’ at the start?
authorisation and allow the player’s representative to present the player’s case or adjourn the matter until the player attends the hearing in person. If a player is pleading ‘not guilty’ it’s strongly advised he attends the hearing to defend the charges.
Q – Does the accused player have to answer questions?
Q – Can a player use a lawyer to be his advocate?
Q – What is the role of an advocate?
Q- Who decides what is or isn’t accepted in a Judiciary hearing?
Q – Shouldn’t a Judiciary Hearing meet the same standards as a civil court?
Typical Judiciary Committee Report
Case No. –
Appeal No. -
Report No. -
OF NEW SOUTH WALES