Wayne Martin

Reporter: Alison Fan

Wayne says "we live in the community we take our kids to sport on the weekends like everybody else. but during the day we read and hear things that quite frankly would make people's hair stand on end"

The king of courts ..in Western Australia. Chief Justice Wayne Martin.As you've never seen him before ..

rounding up sheep on his wheat and wool farm. It's his other job that's tougher. Trying to convince the WA public ...that its justice system is definitely under control. "The public have a completely different perception. they think there's a wave of crime taking over the community and that the judges and magistrates are responding to that ineffectively by giving everybody a kiss and a hug and sending them on their way.

Nothing could be further than the truth"

Now the judge is fighting back:And not from any ivory tower.

He starts his days with a 6 am work-out:Our cameras followed him from the crack of dawn:.into work a couple of hours later.

Wayne says "I've seen more in my three years i have been on the bench that i ever did in 30 years prior to being on the bench.. our work requires us everyday to be immured in whats happening in the community we know whats happening out there because we see it in our courts every day so there are a number of popular myths out there.

Number one myth?

The judges are letting everyone off.

"The judges of western australia send more people to prison and for longer terms in prison than almost any other jurisdiction in the world . We are the highest sentencing jurisdiction in australia with the exception of the northern terrtitory and the sixth highest in the world...so there's a great misconception out there at what's happening with sentences"

Another myth?

That outcomes --like this that provoke public backlash -- are the norm.

"Its only the cases that are controversial that attract the attention of the media and they are controversial usually because there's an argument that the sentence is lenient --now that may be 30,40, 50 cases a year that attract media attention the courts of western austrlalia impose 80,000 penalties a year"

Myth Number 3:

Crime's on the increase.

Wayne says "the crime rates are down, burglary car theft the things that effect ordinary people the rates are right down over the last ten years. sentences are right up."

So why dont judges hit back when urban myths take over the facts. The simple answer is --They cant. "Its impossible for me or judges to comment because of the prospect of an appeal --we have our hands tied we are not able to set the record straight" says Wayne. "Sometimes the misconceptions are based on a lack of information about the circumsstances of the crime or the offender ... there are things we are doing to try to address that like putting the sentencing remarks up on our website"

Trying to dispel some of those misconceptions is why our top judge agreed to this rare glimpse into his private life : "the judging part of my role is only a very small part of my responsibilities.. i think i have to be a conduit to the community to try to explain in words hopefully they'll understand why we do things the way we do and thr reasons for it"

This new-age judge is determined to make our courts more user friendly. Starting with throwing out lawyers wigs.Wayne says "my own personal view not shared by all of my colleagues is that we should avoid trappings that evoke images of 19th century england. we should be contempoirary, speak in language that's contemporary we should avoid the trappings of stuffiness and aloofness and pomposity."

He counts his hardest trial--getting a critical and doubting public on- side.A challenge. Just like a hard-work out. "It sets you up for the day gets your brain working and if youve got a bad body youre not going to have a good brain."