Tasmanian Times

The individual has always had to struggle to keep from being overwhelmed by the tribe. If you try it, you will be lonely often, and sometimes frightened. No price is too high for the privilege of owning yourself. ~ Friedrich Nietzsche

The individual has always had to struggle to keep from being overwhelmed by the tribe. If you try it, you will be lonely often, and sometimes frightened. No price is too high for the privilege of owning yourself. ~ Friedrich Nietzsche

Economy

Justice Pierre Slicer and contempt of court?

First published June 25

When Justice Pierre Slicer recently threatened 3 members of the public with imprisonment for Contempt of Court for taking notes during a bail application, despite not warning the court that taking notes was illegal, it raised two thorny issues:

1. When members of the public are threatened with charges such as Contempt of Court or Perverting the Course of Justice it can be intimidating and acts as discouragement for the public to attend court or come forward with information or concerns.

and

2. It is hard for the public to know when and how they might be in breach of such imprecise laws – assault or car theft might be clear and unambiguous. But to say ignorance of the law is no defence becomes troubling when it seems that such imprecise laws as Contempt of Court and Attempting to Pervert the Course of Justice means whatever the judiciary wants them to mean at any given time. And even more troubling is the public perception that our justice system is not, in fact, just.

Is it common practice for Tasmanian judges in our court system to threaten members of the public with Contempt of Court?

*Jennie Herrera lives in Hobart and is a writer and social justice and human rights activist.

Author Credits: [show_post_categories parent="no" parentcategory="writers" show = "category" hyperlink="yes"]
40 Comments

40 Comments

  1. William Boeder

    July 7, 2018 at 4:23 pm

    In support of the comment by Invicta #39. Thank-you Invicta, Geraldine, Garry, then thanks to the persons who had commented and given support to the matter as has just been stated by Invicta.
    To think that the appointed magistrates, as well as judges appointed to preside over cases conducted in Tasmania’s Supreme Court, have some sort of immunity to the laws as we know them, is to some extent a manner or a matter that is assumed by today’s Judges in Tasmania.

    So we now identify that the assumed belief that Tasmania’s collective judges hold toward themselves “an immunity they do not have” from whatever may be one of these paragons’ flights into a distemper or having transgressed upon an element of our laws, where in this instance immunity has been nothing more than a facade that has grown into a commonly held presumption yet holds no solid substance of fact.

    Shane Dowling, essentially a whistleblower that has his own website (Kangaroo Court) is a man who keenly seeks out the indiscretions of those persons that falsely believe they have some form of special privilege, thus immunity from their disreputable conducts and or shameful traits eg; sexual impositions or indiscretions.
    When legally speaking “the claimants to privilege” have no basis or support of fact to claim an action against the likes of Shane Dowling, this is an interesting line to dwell upon when it comes down to one’s right to speak out and to be heard.
    I enclose this link, one must follow the articles and prompts to zero in on the 7 West media executive incumbent’s failings and shenanigans.
    https://www.google.com.au/search?q=kangaroo+court+of+australia&rlz=1C1GKLA_enAU666AU666&oq=Kangaroo+Court&aqs=chrome.1.0l6.15354j0j4&sourceid=chrome&ie=UTF-8

    This incident had caused Shane Dowling to spend 4 months in the slammer at the behest of one the old crusty snarler Judges of the court in NSW.
    Finally, his published allegations that a great many of today’s snarling judges are pedophiles and bribe-takers has since been adjudged as acceptable free speech. See the whole history of this claim of privilege that does not really exist. (Though in cases before the judge does have his wide powers of discretion to matters relevant.)

  2. Invicta

    July 7, 2018 at 5:38 am

    #29 Brian, you say those who presume to challenge Justice Slicer’s authority to threaten note-takers with contempt of court charges and incarceration are peddling ‘narcissistic nonsense’.

    You say, ‘The law is not only on his side; he is required to uphold it’.

    After conscientiously perusing a variety of legal authorities, I can find nothing that prohibits the taking of notes in a public court hearing. The Tasmanian Supreme Court Practice Directions, for example, make no mention of a protocol pertaining to the permissibility or otherwise of note-taking.

    I can locate no relevant Tasmanian precedent in the case law, but would like to draw your attention to the persuasive statement of Burnett LJ in Ewing v Cardiff & Newport Crown Courts [2016] EWHC 183 (Admin) at [23], as follows –

    ‘In my judgment this guidance is correct in identifying the default position as being that those who attend public court hearings should be free to make notes of what occurs. It is a feature of the principle of open justice that those attending public hearings should ordinarily be able to make notes of what occurs. For any number of reasons a visitor to a court may wish to have a record of the proceedings for later use or out of interest. In this jurisdiction there is no good reason why the starting point should be that note-taking is not allowed unless permission has been sought and granted. Note-taking by members of the public is unlikely, without more, to interfere with the due administration of justice’.

    Clearly, note-taking does not amount to ‘publication’ pursuant to s 37A(1) of the Justices Act 1959 (Tas), as noted previously.

    So, what ‘law’ is on Justice Slicer’s side in this situation? What particular law is he upholding by threatening people taking notes in a open court hearing with serious charges, and imprisonment?

    And, more importantly, where’s the narcissistic nonsense in questioning Justice Slicer’s inappropriate and unsupported actions?

  3. Geraldine Allan

    July 6, 2018 at 7:56 pm

    #37 … Thanks Isla. I agree:

    “… The verdict: Mr Turnbull accurately refers to a general principle: all Australians, including politicians, have the freedom to criticise the courts and judges without the risk of criminal prosecution …”

    Of course the article goes on to explain reasonable qualifiers.

  4. Isla MacGregor

    July 6, 2018 at 6:08 pm

    #9 … Invicta is correct that the issue is:

    While section 37A (1) of the Justices Act 1959 (Tas) provides that –

    [i]‘a person shall not publish or cause or allow to be published an account of the proceedings on an application in respect of bail, except an account giving the fact of the application and stating that an order has been made in respect thereof’[/i]

    [b]and so the mere act of taking notes does not amount to ‘publication’ of the proceedings.[/b]

    … and about Australians’ rights to question the conduct of the courts or a judge: http://www.abc.net.au/news/2017-06-29/fact-check-can-you-criticise-conduct-courts-turnbull/8646494

    Jennie’s article quite rightly opens debate on the need for two legislative reforms concerning comment about, or the accountability of, the conduct of judges, magistrates or court officials in Tasmania. These are well overdue.

    Several regular writers to Tasmanian Times have raised cases where the conduct of judges should come under some form of review and complaints-handling mechanisms.

  5. Geraldine Allan

    July 6, 2018 at 3:13 pm

    #35 … Garry, I too, now hold a blurred understanding on the finer details of rules governing publishing (as opposed to taking notes) as it relates to details of bail applications. Previous to this ‘event’ my interpretation was that taking notes was permissible and that publishing was not.

    Previously, I have taken notes at a bail application, in the instance that the person who was nominating as guarantor for bail of alleged offender was older and had a hearing difficulty. There was a need for explanation after the hearing, which I did. I was not warned/threatened that it was an offence to do so.

    Being unaware of Slicer J’s precise words of warning in this particular instance, I am suspicious that perhaps the threat of imprisonment was in the context of ‘If publication of notes occurs that will result in contempt of court’? Maybe that is a hope.

  6. garrystannus@hotmail.com

    July 6, 2018 at 5:00 am

    Invicta asks: “If Justice Slicer did not wish the public to be present for the bail application in question, why was the court not closed for the proceedings?” The week before (1 June 2018), Karen Keefe had appeared in court via video link for a directions hearing. She is facing three counts of perverting the course of justice, one count of corrupting a witness, and one count of firearm trafficking. Members of the Neill-Fraser support group were among those who waited for the directions hearing in the foyer. Inside the designated courtroom a number of matters not involving Keefe came before Justice Slicer. We couldn’t go in and actually didn’t realise when Keefe’s matter did come before Justice Slicer as the doors were closed, and a court security officer did not let us enter. That was the week before.

    Apparently (according to the The Examiner [Here]), at that directions hearing (1 June 2018), it appeared that Keefe’s case was going to be put off until August “to allow for ongoing discussions between prosecution and defence teams”. Keefe had been refused bail in August, 2017 – now a year later her case will return to court in August. He gave her a week to prepare a bail application and set a date for a return to court on that day, one week later: 8 June 2018.

    I had been one of those there in the foyer outside that directions hearing courtroom, one of those who weren’t able to go inside. I have been at a directions hearing for Sue Neill-Fraser when she had appeared by video link – and we had been allowed into the courtroom on that occasion. Some wondered whether a decision had been taken to keep Neill-Fraser supporters from being present at Keefe’s directions hearing.

    8 June 2018: So it was a bail hearing. This time Karen Keefe was present in person and the public were allowed in. Among them were a few from the Neill-Fraser support group, and some took notes. We’ve taken notes as a matter of course whenever we’ve attended court. I don’t know if everyone realised that, being a bail application, it would be illegal to publish an account of the proceedings “on an application in respect of bail” The penalty for that is a fine not exceeding 100 penalty units ($15,900) or a term of imprisonment not exceeding 6 months. However it is not clear to me that the taking of notes during a bail application is an act of publication of that proceeding, nor is it clear to me that there is any contempt of court involved in doing so.

    I accept Michael Lester’s remarks at #18 about Pierre Slicer’s long history as a campaigner for peoples’ rights, and some of Brain’s remarks at #29. Perhaps Michael’s example of the ‘mortified former young journalist’ & ‘the jury dismissed/charges dropped’ could be near the mark. I myself have been in the habit of publishing my notes taken in the court hearings to do with Sue Neill-Fraser’s 2nd appeal application. For the record, I did once write an unexpurgated account of a bail application which was unsuccessful. Lindsay sensibly delayed its publication and sought advice from a mate who was a ‘beak’. It took a couple of days (maybe more) before he could publish the following (I think it was amended by the ‘beak’) piece. Looking back at it, I’m amazed that it got ‘out there’ at all. For those who’d like to read it and see why bail was opposed in that instance, please read Burnie: The Denial of Bail. Another protest (Tas Times: 22August2011) [Here].

  7. Geraldine Allan

    July 5, 2018 at 1:07 pm

    Thankyou Paul, #33.

    If LT is unable to publish for whatever reason, I would genuinely appreciate receiving details via email or private message.

    Given the more recent circumstances of Governor sacking then DPP Ellis re misconduct, I am particularly interested since I assume it preceded the Magistrates Court Act 1987 wherein S. 9 reads:

    “Tenure of office
    (1) A magistrate shall not be suspended or removed from office except by the Governor on an address from both Houses of Parliament, praying for such suspension or removal on the ground of proved misbehaviour or incapacity.”

  8. Paul Tapp

    July 5, 2018 at 12:32 am

    Geraldine #31 … Can do, Quite a while ago, but memorable. I may have given detailed insight into my personal memoirs, so will take a look tomorrow and maybe proffer an appropriate excerpt for LT to consider.

  9. Geraldine Allan

    July 4, 2018 at 9:52 pm

    #27 … I meant to include your comment in my #28, unless the numbers have altered?

  10. Geraldine Allan

    July 4, 2018 at 9:50 pm

    #30, Paul … can you not tell us more re “An Attorney General had arrived to sack a magistrate (now dead) … “?

  11. Paul Tapp

    July 4, 2018 at 8:11 pm

    Mike Lester at #18, a Tasmanian journalist for many years including court reporting, knows the lay of the land perhaps more than any commentator on this article.

    I too, have covered hundreds of lower and Supreme court cases and, with many of my colleagues in the Press Gallery, have put our pens down during legal argument, bail applications, and even evidence being presented on sensitive cases in committal proceedings, from observing the nod of a presiding judge or magistrate.

    To report such discourse needs firstly to be acceptable to newspaper / broadcast editors who generally aren’t interested in preamble .. unless of course it has some major political implications.

    I well recall reporting a sensational event in Launceston. An Attorney General had arrived to sack a magistrate (now dead) over extra-curricular activities outside his court duties. He went screaming down the hallway and I thought I had a hell of a story. Editorial executives relegated the story to page five with two paragraphs declaring that the magistrate had resigned for personal reasons.

    Judges know more about proceedings than the general public and Slicer’s courtroom direction hardly requires the attention it has received here. It’s a common occurrence and in this case any who call themselves human-rights activists should look beyond the Tasmanian justice system for plenty to crow about.

  12. Brian

    July 4, 2018 at 7:47 pm

    I wrote a detailed reply to this several days ago but unfortunately my overseas Internet ‘lost’ it. Luckily, Mike Lester has put many of my points forward already.

    In addition to his points, it is also worth noting that Justice Slicer retired a number of years ago and is back working in order to help with the Court’s significant backlog. Instead of lying back having time to write musings on websites like this, he is spending significant time away from home and family helping our society keep on top of its issues. I would love to see how many of you would be prepared to do the same at a similar time of life.

    Justice Slicer, unlike people like myself, has an absolute belief in the law and its application. That is why he is a Judge and people of my way of thinking are not, and should never be. Of all people, Judges need to uphold and enforce the law on all occasions or things will start to crumble quickly. He understood this when he took on the role. He still holds the record for time on the bench without a single successful appeal against him.

    You may feel like you know what ‘reporters’ look like and who is likely to do what based on their court appearance, but the law does not allow for such. A man brandishing a handgun may be of no danger, depending on who he is, but he is not allowed in the court with it regardless.

    To think that a Judge can willy-nilly ignore the law is ridiculous and stupid. To write the sort of commentary that I have seen on here about somebody who has done so much for our Tasmanian society is either narcissistic nonsense or demonstrates a lack of understanding of what has gone before. Given that I recognise some of the names on here, I suspect the former.

    At least head over to The Aus and aim your plastic keyboard weapons at the DelCons over there. To start such a ridiculous and clearly misplaced thread aimed at somebody of Justice Slicer’s character merely reflects on those commenting. If the commentators on TT here combined to ever contribute as much to left-leaning causes as Justice Slicer already has done .. I will fall over backwards.

    The law is not only on his side; he is required to uphold it. If have a problem with that then go change the law. This was messenger shooting at its worst.

  13. Geraldine Allan

    July 3, 2018 at 6:38 pm

    #24 to #26 … Great comments and observations.

  14. Isla MacGregor

    July 3, 2018 at 2:10 pm

    #14, #18 and #23 …

    It is quite apparent from the briefness of Jennie’s article that there is likely much more to what occurred in the court before Pierre Slicer’s utterance. We read this at the beginning of Jennie’s article:

    [b]”t can be intimidating and acts as discouragement for the public to attend court or come forward with information or concerns.”[/b]

    The three people who Pierre threatened that day have my sympathy, and I hope they are reading TT and Jennie’s controversial and noticeably brief article, and all the debate that has ensued.

  15. Simon Warriner

    July 3, 2018 at 12:08 pm

    Nicely put, Invicta. Just one quibble. “We” are not bound to the adversarial justice system, it just happens to be the one imposed upon us. That can be changed, and doing it would require “us” to change the nature of our government to one that involved a lot less party politics with the disproportionate involvement by members of the legal profession. That change would enable a lot of other improvements, as I have noted in comments past.

    That thinking that “we” are bound to anything is an important part of the fencing that keeps the sheep where the shepherds and their dogs want them. A bit like providing your own handcuffs.

  16. Invicta

    July 3, 2018 at 3:03 am

    #21 … Mr Boeder, some of us leave the ‘brotherhood’ of legal practitioners voluntarily, and endeavour to do something worthwhile – for ourselves and others. You know all those jokes they tell about lawyers being unscrupulous, amoral pieces of crap who would sell their own mothers to benefit themselves? Well, a lot of them are pretty close to the mark.

    You don’t meet a nice class of people in the legal game, especially those who pursue a career as a barrister/advocate which often involves putting any personal moral imperatives aside to defend the indefensible.

    It still bothers me enormously that this cohort of legal professionals provides the overwhelming majority of magistrates and judges. Does elevation to the bench somehow overcome years of playing the courtroom game to win while studiously avoiding any personal engagement with the victim/perpetrator dynamic? These are people who persecute rape victims, for example, in the name of justice, and the right of an accused person to a presumption of innocence.

    Unfortunately we are bound to an adversarial justice system, but the notion that the most active players in that system suddenly become paragons of impartiality and fairness once they are appointed to the judiciary seems counter-intuitive.

    So, Mr Lester, Justice Slicer may have an admirable record of sorts, but in this particular instance he clearly sought to intimidate three inoffensive members of the public, just because he could. He had the option of treating them with respect and courtesy, but chose instead to threaten them with dire (but ridiculous) consequences.

    I wish they had defied him and forced him to make good on his threats. Now that would have been newsworthy.

    #23 … Mr Bright, Justice Slicer doesn’t need your forgiveness, and if you offered it he would be incredulous with no idea he had done anything requiring exculpation.

  17. Isla MacGregor

    July 3, 2018 at 12:21 am

    #23 … No, we should not [i]all[/i] forgive the judge. When a [i]Goliath[/i] threatens three meek [i]Davids[/i] cowering in the gallery – sympathy is the last thing that the public should be asked to offer to the all powerful.

    To suggest that [i]all[/i] should forgive a person in a position of such privilege is both ingenuous and trite.

    For a person in such a privileged position to admit fault over the misuse of power is a true mark of their humanity. Nothing less will do.

  18. Peter Bright

    July 2, 2018 at 11:49 pm

    I forgive the judge, as should we all.

    Nearly all of us would crumble under the demands of his position.

  19. Geraldine Allan

    July 2, 2018 at 10:13 pm

    #21, William … I am surprised at your attempts to directly contact a former DPP by telephone.

    Since Mr Ellis no longer holds that position due to his convicted offence relating to the 2013 death of Natalia Pearn, perhaps he is justified in feeling harassed by your attempts to engage him in discussion about matters of his former position.

    My thinking is that a more appropriate means of submitting your questions is directly through the Office of DPP, although in saying that I don’t hold much hope for you receiving a satisfactory response. See how you go.

  20. William Boeder

    July 2, 2018 at 9:50 pm

    #19 … Thanks Geraldine. You continue to contribute the relevant substance of facts as you have determined them to be. I would also like to add here that the opinions held in the comments of Invicta go a long way to convince me that this same person is not a party to the alleged “the brotherhood of a great many of this State’s legal practitioners” as averred to by myself in times prior.

    An interesting event occurred today in my 2nd attempt to speak to former DPP Tim Ellis over the telephone. The substance of my first call some 3-4 months ago has no reason for me to explain other than to say it was to question a prior Supreme Court decision given after a hearing within the past 12 months “that had defied the proper carriage of law in our State of Tasmania.” It was then that this person uttered the words “do not harass me.”

    The second occasion I chose to speak to this same person was met with “No I do not want to listen to you. You are harassing me and I may complain to the police that you’re stalking me by way of your ongoing harassments.”

    This statement by this same person was absolutely unnecessary, given that I was unable to ask my question that was to do with a matter I have been unable to satisfy my understanding of the full context of the words; nolle prosequi.

    My question was to be to what extent, of this now resolve to a former rather ‘dubious’ case “was unhampered with such as a long-term delay” (11-12 years) this question in view of this State’s Attorney General approval having been recently granted to this specified case, as ‘nolle prosequi.’

    (Dubious; fraught with uncertainty or doubt.)

    ‘nolle prosequi’
    noun LAW
    a formal notice of abandonment by a plaintiff or prosecutor of all or part of a suit.
    (in the UK) the dismissal or termination of legal proceedings by the Attorney General.

    Thus given the history of the carriage of law in this State, my question was relevant to this same “flow of the law as is the history of this (not unfamiliar yet recognised) performance, as does arise from time to time” was indeed a questionable matter bearing its relativity.

    The answer to this same question could only be accepted from a source having a substantial knowledge of the practiced Tasmanian legal and law applications procedure.

  21. Isla MacGregor

    July 2, 2018 at 9:05 pm

    #18 … Lots of people known to be in high standing in the community have stuffed up at some time or another, Michael. The problem with Judges is no matter whether the stuff up is big or small the likelihood of their being held to public account, or their issuance of an apology is zilch.

    It is my view that Pierre acted inappropriately in the circumstances, and he needs to both provide an explanation and apology for his actions to the three people he threatened with contempt of court and imprisonment etc.

  22. Geraldine Allan

    July 2, 2018 at 6:01 pm

    #18 … Michael, as much as what you write recognising Slicer J’s achievements is honourable, these attributes do not make him foolproof. Judges do err at times.

    Maybe (i) it was an oversight to not advise the rules before admonishing/threatening the note-takers in his courtroom, or (ii) was he simply having a bad day?

    Whichever, let’s not permanently put the hierarchy on pedestals, as surely nobody is infallible. When the crash happens, we peasants become more disillusioned and let-down.

    Personally speaking, I can verify that in his early days of Bench-hood, one of Slicer J’s courts was perverted, which in my judgement is far worse than contempt-of-court. Did he know about it? I can’t answer that. What I can say is that I highly suspect that if not then, then some time later he was well aware of the sinister games (and they are games) played. If he wasn’t aware, then my opinion is he ought not have been sitting amidst Supreme Court Judiciary.

    In fairness and for completeness, I add my belief is that, (i) contempt of court is unacceptable/wrong for valid reasons, and (ii) most if not all members of the judiciary, are well aware of the sinister wrongdoing/shenanigans and unfair tactics used within their courts, yet these go unmentioned .. other than perhaps within the confines of the ‘chambers’ tea-room’.

  23. Michael Lester

    July 2, 2018 at 3:31 pm

    My point is that the law is there to protect the defendant as well as to ensure a fair trial.

    I recently met a former young journalist who was mortified that she had inadvertently caused a jury to be dismissed and charges to be dropped for reporting details of a bail application in the Northern Territory. While the guide is for journalists, those laws don’t just apply to journalists.

    Nobody is above criticism, but Pierre Slicer has a long history as a campaigner of people’s rights. He was Chairperson of the United Nations Committee on Human Rights, he was instrumental in setting up the Aboriginal Legal Service and has campaigned for the Tasmanian Aboriginal Centre, he is an advocate for freedom of speech and a supporter of excellence in journalism (as a judge of media awards). He provided de bono advice to protesters during the Franklin River blockade. He holds the honorary Samoan title of Matai for his work in providing an outsider’s judgement in an election court hearing in 2006.

    As Justice Kirby noted in a speech to the Gay and Lesbian Rights dinner in Hobart in the 1990s, Pierre was a lawyer with a reputation for representing the disadvantaged. So, to answer Isla’s question, no, I don’t know all of what Justice Slicer said but, with his background, I don’t think he deserves the criticism levelled at him in some of the comments. He demonstrably is not a person who wants to suppress freedom of speech, stomp on democracy or to marginalise minority groups.

  24. Isla MacGregor

    July 1, 2018 at 6:54 pm

    #14 … Maybe you did not read Invicta’s comment at #9 and reference to Justices Act 1959.

    Can you please inform readers where in Jennie’s article she mentioned anything about [i]reporting[/i] or [i]publishing[/i] from notes taken at the bail hearing?

    Are you defending Slicer’s remarks? Did any of the journalists present at this hearing inform you of everything Slicer said to these three members of the public that he threatened who are not journalists?

  25. Invicta

    July 1, 2018 at 6:23 pm

    #14 … Thank you for the journalists’ guide to court reporting, but perhaps you’re missing the point of Ms Herrera’s article.

    Three members of the public, who are not journalists, were taking handwritten notes at a bail application hearing. They were not recording the proceedings, and there was nothing to indicate they intended to publish a report of those proceedings.

    If their presence in the court and their note taking was of concern to Justice Slicer, common courtesy would dictate that he should politely remind them that publication of any report was not permitted. Threatening them with immediate incarceration for an action – the note taking – that was not, of itself, in breach of court protocol, was an unnecessarily overbearing response.

    I imagine that if any judge had taken that approach with a note-taking journalist, that person would seriously consider reporting such behaviour. Bullying is never attractive, particularly by a person of the supposed character and social stature of a Supreme Court judge.

  26. William Boeder

    June 29, 2018 at 9:59 pm

    #12 … Annie, I support your well-presented viewpoints with regard to the inequality of all that is that severely visited on the female sex no matter whereupon the Globe.
    There must be funding for this side of the gender, to not make that funding provision is, in my opinion, a criminal act.

    On another point of concern, is the realisation that the appointed judges across the judicial system in Australia have a protection from their personal bias and irresponsible claims and statements.

  27. Michael Lester

    June 29, 2018 at 8:04 pm

    Contempt of court laws are designed to ensure a fair trial and to protect the rights of those charged.
    No journalists can’t report bail applications. This basic guide for reporters might help you understand the matter.

    https://www.supremecourt.tas.gov.au/__data/assets/pdf_file/0010/297622/Covering_the_Courts_-_A_Basic_Guide_for_Journalists_Tasmania.pdf

  28. phill Parsons

    June 27, 2018 at 11:04 am

    Shades of foreign lands and almost Kafkaesque Pierre. How do you know the record was not on in the smartphone? Try coming into the current era and allow notes, just like jurors can do.

    There must be a court recorder and thus a public record to allow any misunderstanding on the part of a note-taker to be corrected, otherwise you are leaving potential criticism to the memory of the critic.

  29. Annie

    June 26, 2018 at 4:21 pm

    I am interested in how the entire justice system can be reoriented towards justice for women and children and girls.

    I feel that it is incredible that the Tasmanian women’s legal service had to fight for its continued funding, also the NSW Rape Crisis Service, but thankfully both have continued. I will also look forward to legal reform in NSW following the Saxon Mullins Rape Case where justice did not prevail for Ms Mullins. She was brave enough to go to court.

    We have an Australian plan in every state and territory to prevent and reduce and end all forms of violence against women and girls, therefore the justice system, legal services and support services require adequate funding.

    There is also a concern in regard to recent changes in the Family Court System as to if it will be adequately resourced to continue to respond skilfully to domestic/family violence cases where the safety of women and children is vital.

    It is wonderful that more and more girls all over the world are brave enough to challenge the legal system and to demand a voice .. for example people taking notes in court and adequate child friendly legal representation in Sudan which recently saved the life of 16 year old Noura who had stabbed to death in self defence a rapist after being forced to marry as a child a much older man. The sentence of death was overturned after an appeal overturned the decision of premeditated murder to one of manslaughter/murder without intent.

    Equality Now highlights how more and more girls who were forced to marry older men are being supported to access the justice system as the journey to legal reform continues. Child “marriage” is a violation of the rights of children. It would be helpful if the Australian government ratified the United Nations Children’s Convention to which Australia is a signatory. This would support existing legislation to protect children from exploitation.

    I am not saying that Justice Slicer is implicated in any of the above, and I appreciate the discussion as to what notes are allowed to be taken by members of the public in court.

  30. Geraldine Allan

    June 26, 2018 at 3:26 pm

    Further to my #10, I clarify — 

    I wasn’t meaning that Slicer J does play golf with ‘justice colleagues’. More, I am meaning that there is discomfort in taking remedial action against colleagues, who may be golf-buddies in leisure time.

    Additionally, contempt of court is one charge IMHO but perverting the course of justice is far more serious. Thus, why threaten imprisonment in the lesser charge whilst the judicial system turns a blind-eye to the more serious? Rhetorical question, me suspects I know the answer.,

  31. Geraldine Allan

    June 25, 2018 at 11:05 pm

    Strewth!

    If only persons who ‘pervert the course of justice’ in Slicer J’s court(s) would receive more than ‘be threatened’ with imprisonment. My knowledge involves far more serious stuff than taking notes at a bail application hearing.

    I am aware of serious perverting justice in his court by high-ranking persons. What happened? Nothing. Turn a blind eye stuff.

    Then again, if the judge plays golf on weekends it could well be with some of these afore-mentioned criminals.

  32. Invicta

    June 25, 2018 at 6:59 pm

    I would like more detail on this matter which, on its face, seems to indicate outrageous behaviour on the part of the judge.

    As far as I am aware, a member of the public taking written notes during an open court session is not breaching any court rules or protocols. Unauthorised recording of court proceedings is obviously not permitted, but threatening persons taking notes with imprisonment for contempt of court sounds like nothing more than outright bullying from the bench.

    Were the three persons involved advised to cease taking notes before the threat of incarceration was made?

    If Justice Slicer did not wish the public to be present for the bail application in question, why was the court not closed for the proceedings?

    While section 37A (1) of the Justices Act 1959 (Tas) provides that –

    [i]’a person shall not publish or cause or allow to be published an account of the proceedings on an application in respect of bail, except an account giving the fact of the application and stating that an order has been made in respect thereof'[/i] and so the mere act of taking notes does not amount to ‘publication’ of the proceedings.

    Members of the public cannot be expected to know all the details of court procedure – a simple explanation of the rules would have sufficed in this case. Threats of incarceration, in the circumstances described by Ms Herrera, do nothing to enhance the already poor reputation of the Tasmanian justice system.

  33. Ken Partridge

    June 25, 2018 at 6:54 pm

    As a friendly (now late) judge said at the time
    “.. the law is the law ..go political”. It was a matter of compulsory acquisition (15 a Wellington St.Launceston) We strived and eventually won in the Upper House using the three natural justice principles.

    Evan’s 2nd para says it all, the final sentence summing up the whole caboodle!

    P.S.Maybe Natural Justice should be seen as UK’s belated attempt to correct its own UNJUST legacy of its adversarial system.

  34. Evan Whitton

    June 25, 2018 at 3:00 pm

    You obviously cannot have justice without trying to find the truth of what actually happened. As Justice Russell Fox put it in Justice in the 21st Century (2000) … justice means fairness and fairness and morality require a search for the truth, otherwise the wrong side may win.

    The legal system we got as a colony of England does not search for the truth. Perhaps the scribblers threatened with prison time for contempt of court could ask the judge, Pierre Slicer, whether he, other judges and lawyers have succumbed to contempt for the truth?

  35. Kevin Moylan

    June 25, 2018 at 2:46 pm

    #2 … Isla. May, 2004. You will recall when you bravely and generously advocated for me and acted as a reliable witness to my sham and contrived ‘mediation and conciliation conference,’ after 9 torturous years in the Hobart Supreme Court.

    Remember, none of my witness and evidence was ever heard or tested in a real court of law. Point-blank, refused and denied natural justice. Hon. Peg Putt’s, Victim Impact Statement was rejected.

    I did not and refused to (free speech) sign a confidentiality (be silenced forever) agreement.

    NET, I was awarded $130,000. My pretend lawyer failed to provide a Statement of Loss. Never to own property again. Never to nurse again. Shafted and sent packing, homeless, back to the mainland.

    Post Kangaroo hearing, on the slimy steps outside, Supreme Court Magistrate Merrin McKay ordered you (Isla) to destroy your handwritten notes.

    You vehemently protested, again and again; then under threat of judicial prosecution, you ripped-up our witness and evidence and flung it into the putrid Van Diemen air, never to be used or seen again.

    Isla, do you recall what bogus crime(s) you were alleged to have committed? Public Interest Advocacy? Supporting Involuntary Whistleblowers?

    For me, Democracy and Natural Justice died that sad day. Only in oppressed TasMANIA! Which has no superior external watchdog … and why not?

  36. Isla MacGregor

    June 25, 2018 at 1:34 am

    #4 … All the more reason John, why Tasmanian judges should not be exempt from investigation under the Integrity Commission Act 2009.

    No one should be above the law. Censorship is considered to be the antithesis of the functions of a democracy.

    But the power of Tasmanian Judges to selectively sanitise what occurs in a legal system, designed to entrench entitlement and privileges based on a class system, remains unchallenged, unaccountable and clearly unreported .. especially in the Tasmanian media.

  37. john hayward

    June 24, 2018 at 11:51 pm

    It has been my experience that Tas judges sometimes feel free to suspend the law and extemporise when it is convenient.

    I saw, inter alia, an SC judge very like Slicer abruptly gag the citation of the court’s own transcript evidence which he was claiming had never been submitted to the court.

    John Hayward

  38. Mike Adams

    June 24, 2018 at 1:12 pm

    Equipped with court issued hearing aids, I was the only one in a packed public attendance to hear the magistrate’s sotto voce closing remark, ‘I apologise for the lack of fireworks.’

    I was also able to track down a curious noise: it was the magistrate tapping his pencil on the bench.

    However, the aids were no use at all when solicitors were addressing the magistrate and facing away. The case involved Peter Cundall’s trespass on government property.

  39. Isla MacGregor

    June 24, 2018 at 1:00 pm

    It is my understanding that unless a judge declares that a court is closed, proceedings are not only open to the public but reportable in the press.

    So why did Pierre Slicer not tell those in the court from the outset that they could not take notes? What was it about this case, not identified in this article, that Pierre Slicer felt justified in using a threat of contempt of court and imprisonment against people taking notes in a public court hearing? Why did he not close the court from the outset? Were there many journalists present at this hearing, and did they report on Pierre Slicer’s conduct, and if not, why not?

    Yes, this raises many more questions about the ethics of the legal system, and in particular the unaccountable powers of judges.

  40. Pete Godfrey

    June 24, 2018 at 12:14 pm

    It all comes down to EGO in the end.

    Judges don’t want their mutterings to be recorded because often they don’t actually add up to anything meaningful or substantial.

    The law is designed to keep the poor in their place, that is why anything resembling justice is so expensive. That is also why if you have enough money you will most likely get off scott free.

    Evan Whitton’s book offers a wonderful insight into how our legal system doesn’t do what it purports to do.

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