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The Australian National University

Ms Mary Spiers Williams

B.A. (Hons) USyd; LLB (Hons) USyd; GradDipLegPrac
ANU College of Law
T: +61 2 6125 8527

Areas of expertise

  • Criminal Law And Procedure 180110
  • Aboriginal And Torres Strait Islander Law 180101
  • Law And Society 180119
  • Access To Justice 180102
  • Legal Institutions (Incl. Courts And Justice Systems) 180120

Research interests

Sociolegal studies (global perspectives on laws and societies), Criminal Law, Indigenous Law, Indigenous perspectives on State law, 'Culture' in legal discourse.


Mary first taught criminal law in 1999. She now teaches criminal law and process, criminal justice, evidence, ethics, youth law, impacts of state laws on Indigenous peoples in Australia, and sociolegal approaches to state law.

She has taught criminal law and procedure, criminology, sentencing, evidence, advocacy, penology, and legal ethics at the ANU and other leading Australian universities.  

Prior to be becoming a full-time academic, Mary was a criminology researcher, practiced criminal law in NSW and the NT in all jurisdictions, was senior policy officer in criminal law reform at the NSW Attorney General's Department, facilitated law and justice projects with and for Warlpiri people, and conducted community legal education in Warlpiri and other Aboriginal communities in central Australia.

Researcher's projects

Currently undertaking doctoral research into legal concepts of 'culture' and its impact on sentencing.

Available student projects

Criminal Law (including sentencing and criminal justice processes)


Access to Justice

The impact of State Law on First Nations peoples

Transnational law

Current student projects

2018: Sienna Lake - topic concerns taking into account Yolngu legal practices when sentencing Yolngu offenders.

Past student projects


Student: Zoe Neumeyer

Topic: 'The Hardening Effect Of Appellate Processes When Sending Youth To Detention. An analysis of judgements from the Northern Territory Supreme Court'


Student: Anna Boden

Topic: 'A critical analysis of the jurisprudence on the unfairness discretion: will section 90 be exercised to exclude an admission procured by police deceit?'

Previous topics supervised include:

  • The admissibility of admissions obtained in the context of deceitful representations by police investigators
  • The contemporary relevance of the right to silence
  • Therapeutic jurisprudence and procedural justice



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Updated:  20 August 2018 / Responsible Officer:  Director (Research Services Division) / Page Contact:  Researchers