State Records Office of WA SROWA

Government of Western Australia, Department of Local Government, Sport and Cultural Industries

Series S122 - FILES - CRIMINAL INDICTMENT

Identity area

Reference code

AU WA S122

Title

FILES - CRIMINAL INDICTMENT

Date(s)

  • 1830-01-01 - (Creation)

Level of description

Series

Medium

Format

Files

Status

Context area

Name of creator

AU WA A44 - SUPREME COURT OF WESTERN AUSTRALIA (1861-01-01 -)

Administrative history

A Court of Quarter Sessions was established in Western Australia in 1830 and a Civil Court established two years later. However, as the colony grew and as society became more complex, the judiciary became overtaxed. In the 1850s the equity jurisdiction of the Civil Court was challenged while the courts' jurisdiction in criminal matters was questioned. For these and other reasons, the Supreme Court Ordinance of 1861 was introduced.

The Supreme Court Ordinance (proclaimed on 18 June 1861) provided for a Supreme Court which had the same criminal, common law, and equity jurisdiction as the Courts of Westminister. The Ordinance amalgamated the Court of Quarter Sessions with the Supreme Court and transferred to it a number of functions of the Civil Court. For example, the Supreme Court was empowered to grant probates and letters of administration and given jurisdiction in bankruptcy matters. After 1863, the Supreme Court was also given jurisdiction in matrimonial causes (i.e. divorces).

Under the Ordinance, the officers of the Supreme Court were to be the Chief Justice (Archibald Paull Burt), an Attorney-General, a Master, and a Registrar.

In 1880 a new Supreme Court Act was introduced. The Act which came into force on 1 August 1881, clarified the Court's jurisidiction in admiralty matters and empowered the Chief Justice to make Rules for the conduct of the Court. Provision was also made for the appointment of one or more puisne judges and for the Chief Justice and other judges to sit as a Full Court. Initially, the Full Court could only entertain motions for retrials and pronounce on points of law, but after 1886 it was given the status of a Court of Appeal.

The first sitting of the Supreme Court was held on 3 July 1861 and for the first few years it occupied premises in the Police Court and Gaol Building in Beaufort Street, Perth. In 1863 it moved to the old (1836) Court House in Stirling Gardens and in 1880 moved again to the old (1835) Commissariat Store at the foot of Barrack Street. Despite alterations the Commissariat building was inadequate and in the 1890's work began on a new, purposely-designed courthouse. The new building, completed in 1903, is still the principal seat of the Supreme Court of Western Australia.

Name of creator

AU WA A102 - COURT OF GENERAL QUARTER SESSIONS OF THE PEACE (1830-01-01 - 1861-01-01)

Administrative history

On 9 December 1829, Captain Stirling appointed Justices of the Peace to deal with civil and criminal matters. The greater part of their work was in connection with criminal offences and they held Courts of Petty and Quarter Session as in England. Quarter Sessions were held early in January, April, July and October in each year, the first sitting being in 1830.

The Quarter Sessions Act 1832 conferred on the Court power to hear and determine all felonies and misdemeanors committed in the colony, including forgery and perjury.

The Court of Quarter Sessions first sat in the office of the Deputy Harbour Master at Arthur's Head, Fremantle, and later in another room in Fremantle. It was not until the Courthouse was built in Perth in 1837 that Quarter Sessions were held in the capital.

The Court of Quarter Sessions and the Civil Court of Western Australia were amalgamated into the Supreme Court of Western Australia in 1861.

Archival history

Content and structure area

Scope and content

In order to deal with criminal offences Captain Stirling created the appointments of Justices of the Peace on 9 December 1829 under the 1535 Act Hen. VIII, excluding the "caution clause". A further Proclamation was made on 20 January 1830 appointing Magistracy to deal with the establishment of Civil and Criminal Law and Law Courts through the Petty and Quarter Sessions. In April 1830 the Magistrates drew up rules relating to juries approved in the first sitting of Quarter sessions of July 1830.

The early court of Quarter Sessions were held in Fremantle until the Court house was built in Perth in 1837.

With the establishment of the Supreme Court in 1861, criminal matters were transferred to the Supreme Court. A Justice Act, No. 14 of 1902, was created to establish a "Code of Criminal Law". This Code was repealed and re-enacted with amendments between 1902-1913 by Act No. 28 of 1913.

To identify case files, it is necessary to consult the Criminal Record Books (Record Series 49) held by the State Records Office.

Documentation for each Court Session is chronologically arranged and typically contains;


  • Judges Calendar (includes several files);
  • Criminal Sittings Calendar (day of particular file);
  • Lock-up report (the names of those prisoners included in the Sittings referred to in the Judges Calendar and individual case files).

Case files typically contain:


  • Jury panel;
  • Inquest report;
  • Notice of Sittings to defendant;
  • *Deposition of Witnesses;
  • Statement of accused;
  • Items used as exhibits in court.

The first consignment of files (consignment 3472) are cases heard before the Court of Quarter Sessions 1830-1861. The second consignment (consignment 3473) includes files from the Supreme Court.

The files are arranged according to the sitting of the court. The case file listings give a control number for each sitting, with case numbers, for that sitting. Where a case file is not held by the State Records Office this is indicated on the listing by a semi-colon between the numbers. Where a case has not been registered it is shown on the case file listing. Other consignments contain the files for various country sittings. As above, the names, date of sittings and sometimes the case number are found in the criminal registers (Record Series 49).

One consignment contains only criminal calendars, though these may be held with case files as well (e.g. in Cons 3473).

One consignment contains nolle prosequi files which are cases where the Crown has chosen not to proceed with the indictment, due to insufficient evidence. Nolle prosequis may also be held with depositions or in any of the other consignments. Nolle prosequis should also be checked in the criminal registers (Record Series 49).


  • Deposition = statement of witnesses, probably taken by police at initiation of proceedings. To access depositions (unregistered) consult index to depositions (Record Series 260) 1849-1878, and consignment listings for this series for later depositions.

For criminal indictment files after 1973 when a number on year system was used instead of case numbers, see Record Series 864.

Accruals

System of arrangement

Numerical

Conditions of access and use area

Conditions governing access

Restricted 75 years

Conditions governing access (legacy)

Conditions governing reproduction

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Existence and location of originals

Related units of description

Authorized form of name

Identifier

Category of relationship

Related

Description of relationship

Dates of relationship

1866-01-01 - 1909-01-01

Identifier

Category of relationship

Related

Description of relationship

Dates of relationship

1898-01-01 - 1917-12-31

Identifier

Category of relationship

Related

Description of relationship

Dates of relationship

1830-01-01 -

Identifier

Category of relationship

Related

Description of relationship

Dates of relationship

1830-01-01 -

Identifier

Category of relationship

Related

Description of relationship

Dates of relationship

1830-01-01 -

Identifier

Category of relationship

Related

Description of relationship

Dates of relationship

1830-01-01 -

Identifier

Category of relationship

Preceding

Description of relationship

Dates of relationship

1861-01-01 - 1972-12-31

Identifier

Category of relationship

Related

Description of relationship

Dates of relationship

1861-01-01 -

Identifier

Category of relationship

Controlling

Description of relationship

Dates of relationship

1946-04-02 -

Identifier

Category of relationship

Related

Description of relationship

Dates of relationship

1949-11-09 -

Identifier

Category of relationship

Related

Description of relationship

Dates of relationship

1861-01-01 - 1900-01-01

Identifier

Category of relationship

Related

Description of relationship

Dates of relationship

1849-01-01 - 1878-01-01

Related units of description

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Sources

Archivist's note

Range Control Symbol = 1 -
Copies: Microfilm copies of cases (Cons 3472, part Cons 3473) are available at the State Records Office of Western Australia

Accession area