Series VPRS 30
Criminal Trial Briefs
About this Series Related Series Accessing the records in this Series
Date Range: Series ? 1841 - 1996
  Series in Custody 1841 - 1996
  Contents 1840 - 1997
Public Access: Part Open
Location: North Melbourne
Format of Records: Physical
 
Agency which created this SeriesAgency which created this Series
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Date Range Agency Title Agency Number
1841 - 1983 Office of the Victorian Government Solicitor (previously known as the Office of the Crown Solicitor) VA 667
1983 - cont Office of Public Prosecutions (Known as Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions from 1983-1995) VA 2550
Agency currently responsible for this SeriesAgency currently responsible for this Series
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Date Range Agency Title Agency Number
1983 - cont Office of Public Prosecutions (Known as Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions from 1983-1995) VA 2550
Description of this SeriesDescription of this Series
  • How to use the Records
    There are five potential starting points for discovering a criminal trial brief, depending on the period during which the prosecution took place: 1841 to 1861, 1852 to 1891, 1892 to 1961, 1962 to 1981 and 1982 to 1996.


    1841 - 1861
    Search within this series for the name of the accused, the crime, the court or the year of the trial. These records (also called SET ONE and SET TWO in the data) were originally in consignment P0, but have been reprocessed into consignment P29. Note that this period overlaps with the next - for records which could be in either period, try this method first, then move on to the method described below.

    1852 - 1891
    Search for the name of the accused in VPRS 3523 Criminal Trial Brief Register I (available in PROV Reading Rooms) and take note of the year, court, month and number of the trial (for example, a case could be identified as Geelong, 1875, November, 3 - this is the third case held in Geelong in November, rather than November the third being the date of the trial). The records of these cases (also called SET THREE in the data) were originally in consignment P0, but have been reprocessed into consignment P29.

    1892 - 1961
    Search for the name of the accused in VPRS 3524 Criminal Trial Brief Register II (available in PROV Reading Rooms) and take note of the year and number of the trial - for example, 1898/5 would be the fifth case of 1898. The overwhelming majority of the records of these cases (also called SET FOUR in the data, for cases up to 1930) can be found in consignment P0; the remainder are in P30.

    1962 - 1981
    Search for the name of the accused in in VPRS 8086 Card Register to Criminal Trial Briefs and take note of the year and number of the trial. From 1971 onwards, a letter code is used in place of the year (e.g. A = 1971, B = 1972 and so on through the alphabet to Z = 1994. "I" and "O" were not used as letter prefixes).

    1982 - 1996
    Search for the name of the accused in VPRS 14427 CMS (Case Management System) Database. (This series is not held in archives as at July 2016.)

    1996
    In 1996 VPRS 30 Criminal Trial Briefs ended. The subsequent series is VPRS 14414 Prosecution and Litigation Records. These are controlled by VPRS 14415 PRISM (Prosecution Records Information Systems Management) Database.

  • Function / Content
    This series comprises the documentation created in the course of the prosecution of individuals committed for trial on indictable and capital offences. The contents of this series is gathered, created and maintained by the recording agencies which have been responsible for preparing and prosecuting such cases on behalf of the Crown.

    Indictable offences are generally those crimes identified within the various Crimes Acts since 1890. The 1890 Crimes Act had replaced the Criminal Law and Practice Act 1864 that consolidated the various legislation in place beforehand. A capital offence differed from an indictable offence in that it carried a mandatory death sentence.

    Trials relating to these offences were held in either the Supreme or County Court depending on the charge. (The County Court was known as the Court of General Sessions prior to 1968.) A trial could not occur until the accused had been committed for trial by a committal hearing in the Magistrate's Court (known prior to 1971 as Courts of Petty Sessions). At this hearing the Magistrate determined if sufficient evidence existed to commit the accused for trial.

    The series is titled Criminal Trial Briefs although the brief itself is part of a much larger accumulation.

    This accumulation commenced when an individual had been committed and the papers used by the Crown in the committal hearing had been received from the committing court. Papers generated during the subsequent trial preparation and prosecution process were added so that by the end of the prosecution, the documentation for each case may have consisted of a number of items.

    Documentation for a completed case typically contained the following elements:

    Original depositions (including exhibits)
    These are the papers sent from the committing court, forming the basis of the prosecution. They include the depositions (or statements) of various witnesses and associated documents such as witness recognisances, bail documentation and subpoenas. These were usually bound together in some way and a cover sheet containing summary information about the prosecution is usually attached. Researchers should note that exhibits which are private or police property are returned to their owners at the conclusion of the trial.

    Additional evidence
    This consists of evidence collected after the committal hearing.

    Prosecutor's brief (also known as the Brief for the Prosecution)
    These are papers created to assist the Crown Prosecutor in presenting the prosecution case during the trial. Contents usually comprised copies of papers found in the original depositions together with original items such as the prosecutor's instructions and notes, results of scientific tests, query sheets, notices of additional witnesses and admissions of fact by the accused. Additional briefs were also created when the prosecutor appeared before the court in matters dealing with specific trial processes, such as applications for change of trial venue (known as a Brief to Appear), or in instances where the prosecutor approached the Chamber Prosecutor or another barrister for a legal opinion (also known as a Brief to Advise).

    Administrative Papers / Work in Progress file
    These records are miscellaneous administrative papers, correspondence and legal opinions relating to any aspect of the prosecution, preparation and appeal action. From 1983 these papers have been placed in a specially marked folder known as the Work in Progress File.

    Since approximately the middle of the 20th Century, other items have also been created and added to the file. These include:

    Duplicate copies of the original depositions
    These are produced for all persons involved in the prosecution process, including one copy for each of the officers responsible for preparing the case, the trial Judge, any Junior Counsel assisting the prosecutor, counsel for the accused and a spare copy. Duplicate copies of most documentary exhibits are also created for use of all jury members during the trial.

    Trial transcripts
    The inclusion of transcripts started in the mid-1940s and they are found in approximately half of the files. Transcripts are more prevalent in later cases. Duplicate copies were also created for the trial judge, junior counsel and occasionally others, but these have been removed.

    Breach of court order files
    These are files which document any subsequent prosecution of the accused for the breach of any court order imposed as part of the original trial sentence.

    Appeal files
    These records document any appeals initiated against the original trial sentence and / or decision by the Crown Prosecutor or the accused.


    CONTENTS OF SERIES IN ARCHIVAL CUSTODY

    All files in archival custody created prior to c.1960 appear to have been culled so that, in most instances, only the original depositions and, in some cases, the prosecutor's briefs have been retained.

    All files in custody created since 1971 have been culled under the provisions of Public Record Office Standard 88/18, Records Disposal Schedule for Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions. Under this schedule the original documents, the unique elements of the prosecutor's brief, documentary exhibits and where extant, a copy of the trial transcript, the appeal file, and the covering sheet of the breach of court order file were retained permanently.

  • Recordkeeping System
    ORIGINAL ORDER OF SERIES

    Files were originally arranged in two separate sequences that would ordinarily have been identified and registered as separate archival series.

    1841 - 1891
    During this period files were arranged primarily according to the year and court (trial) location with individual briefs numbered sequentially within each month.
    Brief numbers were allocated from a register (VPRS 3523), a microfiche copy of which has been created for reference purposes. The register in custody date only from 1855. It is not known whether a register was created prior to this date or whether the method of arrangement commenced at this date, and all files created up to that time were put into a new arrangement.

    1892 - 1961
    From 1892 an annual single number was allocated upon receipt of the original depositions after the committal. Under this system, each file was numbered sequentially within each year: thus the first received in 1892 is numbered 1892/1. This system remained relatively constant in the years since, although during the 1960's and 1970's all files relating to incomplete cases were allocated a new file number on the advent of the new calendar year.
    Until 1961 file numbers for this sequence were allocated from a register (VPRS 3524), a microfiche copy of which has been created. A new volume of the register was started each year. There is an index to the surnames of the accused at the front of each volume.

    1962 - 1987
    Use of the bound register was discontinued in 1962 in favour of a card register (VPRS 8086) arranged in file number order. A card index arranged alphabetically by surname of the accused was also created at this time.
    References to file numbers in the card register and index from 1971 are complicated in that the year component of the file number is expressed as an alphabetical letter. (e.g. A = 1971, B = 1972 and so on through the alphabet to Z = 1994. "I" and "O" were not used as letter prefixes.). This practice was initially adopted by the agency to aid in the physical storage of files.

    1988 - 1996
    At the end of 1987 a computer system was introduced (VPRS 14427 CMS (Case Management System) Database. This series was not held in archives as at December 2004. The annual single number system continued, including the letter component representing the year. X represented 1992, so the 55th file in 1992, for example, is numbered X55. In 1995, the letter prefix became ZA.

    1996
    1996 saw the advent of a new database, VPRS 14415 PRISM (Prosecution Records Information Systems Management). In this transitional year between CMS and PRISM, outstanding prosecutions from 1995 were numbered under both the old system (thus acquiring a ZB or ZC prefix) and the new system (prefix 96). In PRISM, the old numbers were linked to the new ones by entering the ZB numbers into a free-text field in the database. The files were then primarily identified by the 96 number, which was written on the front page of each file. These records are not part of VPRS 30. PRISM controls records other than criminal trial briefs, and thus records controlled by PRISM are a new series, VPRS 14414 Prosecution and Litigation records.


    SERIES IN ARCHIVAL CUSTODY

    1841 - 1891
    The original order of files from the 1841 - 1891 sequence has been partially altered and is thus currently arranged within three different sequences known as sets. These are:

    SET ONE: 1841 - 1865 (original units 1 - 184 of the P0 consignment, reprocessed to become units 1 - 184 of the P29 consignment)
    This set contains files that were arranged in 1971 - 1972 by a researcher, Mrs Jean Uhl. Each file in this set was allocated a multiple number registration that relates to entries found in VPRS 78 Criminal Record Book (recording agency VA 2549 Supreme Court), for example: 5/118/14 is a reference to Criminal Record Book number (5)/page number (118)/entry number on page (14)

    A card index to these files, prepared by Mrs Uhl, (VPRS 6933) is located in the Victorian Archives Building Search Room. It has also been duplicated on two microfilm series (VPRS 6774 which contains the entire index and VPRS 4325 which contains only those cards which control the briefs in Set One). Each card records the defendant's name, the multiple number reference, and through another multiple number system, the place of trial and nature of crime. For more detailed information on the arrangement of the index refer to the guide to the Uhl Index located with these finding aids.

    SET TWO: 1841 - 1861 (Units 185 - 227 of the P0 consignment, reprocessed to become units 185 - 227 of the P29 consignment)
    This set contains files for which no entries were found in VPRS 78. These files were arranged in chronological order by Mrs Uhl who then allocated a single number prefaced by the letters NCR (Not in Criminal Record book).

    Cards indexing these briefs are found within VPRS 6933 and record the defendant's name and the NCR brief number.

    SET THREE: 1852 - 1891 (Units 227A - 868 of the P0 consignment, reprocessed to become units 228 - 871 of the P29 consignment)

    This set contains files arranged in the original order of the 1841 - 1891 sequence. These files are not controlled by the card index created by Mrs Uhl (VPRS 6933). A card, however, will be found in that index for every brief with an entry in VPRS 78 to the end of book 6 (February 1873).

    Any references to these briefs in the Uhl Index should be disregarded. These files are controlled only by VPRS 3523.

    1892 - 1996
    The original order of the early portion of these files has been altered by reprocessing projects listed below.

    In addition, consignments P2 - P3 are not arranged in strict original order. The P6 consignment comprises files that should have been processed in consignments P1 - P5. Similarly, the P8 consignment comprises files that should have been processed in the P7 consignment.


    OTHER SERIES OF BRIEFS INCORPORATED INTO VPRS 30

    This series was defined during 1984 when a reprocessing project consolidated a number of series into the current arrangement. Series affected were:

    VPRS 5053 Criminal Trial Briefs - Part 1, 1841 - 1862 (These files are now Sets One and Two of the P0 consignment).

    VPRS 475 Criminal Trial Briefs (General Sessions) 1860 - 1861 (These files are now units 229 - 236 of the P0 consignment).

    VPRS 30 was originally serialised as Criminal Trial Briefs - Part 2 and comprised the remaining files of the P0 consignment.


    REPROCESSING OF VPRS 30

    In 1999 as part of the preparations for the relocation of PROV holdings to the new repository in North Melbourne, a portion of VPRS 30/P0 was reprocessed to assist the preservation of the records and to improve access for researchers. A detailed records description list was prepared and some basic conservation work was undertaken.

    All Criminal Trial Briefs on open access in 1999 and files that would become available from 2000 to 2004 were reprocessed and listed. In addition, some out of sequence files previously in old units 3749 to 3798 were returned to their correct position in the sequence. Consequently all files for the years 1841 to 1930 were in order and located in VPRS 30/P0 units 1 to 2371. Out of sequence files for the years 1932 to 1955 were sorted by year and placed in order in VPRS 30/U1 units 14 to 45.

    In 2014, VPRS 30/U1 units 14-45 and 2400-4784, containing briefs for the period 1936-1965 were reprocessed into P0. Large briefs had been accumulated in various short runs within U1; those small enough in size were returned into their place in the sequence of briefs; the others were added to the end of work already completed and are now contained in units 3431-3448 of 30/P0. Some clusters of briefs for a particular year were found out of sequence. Those unable to be returned to their place in the sequence were accumulated at the end of the next completed year of briefs.

    In 2016, detailed data was published to allow easier searching of the pre-1891 records. These records, originally VPRS 30/P0 units 1 - 868, are now in VPRS 30/P29, units 1 - 871 (box for box replacement resulted in a higher unit number because of the existence of P0 units 227A, 293A and 422A).

More research resourcesMore research resources
Indexes and RegistersIndexes and Registers
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Date Range Series Title Series Number
1841 - 1853 Index to (1) Civil Servants Named in VPRS 29 Port Phillip Expenditure Accounts, 1841-1851; (2) Index to VPRS 30, 1841-1853; (3) VPRS 264 & VPRS 1100, 1852-1956 (Microfilm Copy) VPRS 4325
1841 - 1865 UHL Index to Criminal Trial Briefs (Microfilm Copy of VPRS 6933) VPRS 6774
1855 - 1891 Criminal Trial Brief Register I VPRS 3523
1892 - 1961 Criminal Trial Brief Register II VPRS 3524
1962 - 1981 Card Register to Criminal Trial Briefs VPRS 8086
Controlled SeriesControlled Series
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Date Range Series Title Series Number
Previous SeriesPrevious Series
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Transfer Date Series Title Series Number
Subsequent SeriesSubsequent Series
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Transfer Date Series Title Series Number
0 - 1996 Prosecution and Litigation Records VPRS 14414
0 - 1996 Criminal Trial Briefs, Sub-set of VPRS 30 Criminal Trial Briefs and VPRS 14414 Prosecution and Litigation Records VPRS 16170
List/s of records in this seriesList/s of records in this series
Displaying 1 to 20 of 29  Go To First Page Of List Go To Previous Page Of List of 2 Go To Next Page Of List Go To Last Page Of List 
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Consignment Number Contents Date Range Public Access No. of Units
P0000 1892 - 1965 Part Open 5157
P0001 1965 - 1967 Closed 500
P0002 1961 - 1969 Closed 500
P0003 1960 - 1971 Closed 500
P0004 ? 1971 - ? 1972 Closed 607
P0005 ? 1972 - ? 1978 Closed 2428
P0007 ? 1979 - ? 1984 Closed 2764
P0008 ? 1933 - ? 1984 Closed 137
P0009 ? 1985 - 1987 Closed 1802
P0010 1988 - 1989 Closed 1277
P0011 1967 - 1990 Closed 891
P0012 1991 - 1991 Closed 725
P0013 1971 - 1991 Closed 354
P0014 1992 - 1992 Closed 792
P0015 1988 - 1992 Closed 267
P0016 1993 - 1993 Closed 785
P0017 1976 - 1994 Closed 156
P0018 1994 - 1994 Closed 709
P0019 1862 - 1950 Part Open 4
P0020 1995 - 1995 Closed 916
Indexes and RegistersIndexes and Registers
Display entries per page
Date Range Series Title Series Number
1841 - 1853 Index to (1) Civil Servants Named in VPRS 29 Port Phillip Expenditure Accounts, 1841-1851; (2) Index to VPRS 30, 1841-1853; (3) VPRS 264 & VPRS 1100, 1852-1956 (Microfilm Copy) VPRS 4325
1841 - 1865 UHL Index to Criminal Trial Briefs (Microfilm Copy of VPRS 6933) VPRS 6774
1855 - 1891 Criminal Trial Brief Register I VPRS 3523
1892 - 1961 Criminal Trial Brief Register II VPRS 3524
1962 - 1981 Card Register to Criminal Trial Briefs VPRS 8086
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