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13 May, 2008  
Goings on ...

Lavatory crisis at Solicitor General’s drinks in Hobart … What is a “Marsden”? ... Newspaper wastes acres of space on Justice Paul Guest … Patrick Power back in court … Grovel to barrister but not to journalist … (Justice) Emilios Kyrou calls the shots on sex with clients

imageThe drinks gathering that celebrated Leigh Sealy’s appointment as Solicitor General for Van Diemen’s land was an absolute triumph.

Leigh’s brother, Mark, who looks confusingly similar to Mr Solicitor, was there for the festivities. At one point Mark headed for the men’s lavatory only to find parked outside the door the DPP Tim Ellis having a heated row with the Attorney General David Llewellyn, a former lay preacher and electronic goods merchandiser.

Brother Sealy was so taken aback by the altercation that he thought it more politic to duck into the ladies lav next door rather than disturb the disputants.

When he came out Ellis and Llewellyn were still at it, hammer and tongs. “Calm down chaps,” Mark cried plaintively.

Llewellyn turned on him, thinking it was Leigh. “Why would I pay any attention to you, you’ve just used the ladies’ facility?”

* * *

imageThoughtfully, someone took an interesting snap at the Sealy function.

There’s Simon Cooper (left), who was to have been made a magistrate had he not he objected to the Gunns Pulp and Pollution Mill, the current Attorney General David Llewellyn (centre), and Glenn Hay (right), the Hobart barrister appointed to the job originally earmarked for Cooper.

They look deliriously happy.

* * *

There was reference in the Mercedes Corby defamation case, currently underway in the NSW Supreme Court, to something called a “penis pipe”.

Co-defendant and former friend Jodie Power identified a photo of Mercedes taken in Bali in 1998.

According to our sister organ the Gazette of Law & Journalism it showed Mercedes holding a “penis pipe”, which Power helpfully explained to the court was “a pipe for smoking marijuana, in the shape of a penis”.

I since discover that this implement is popularly known among consumers of “mull” as a “Marsden”.

Maybe a knowledgeable reader could explain why this is so.

On an unrelated matter former President of the NSW Law Society John Marsden’s old hideaway at Otford, south of Sydney, has been sold to former Premier Nick (Tobacco) Greiner.

In Marsden’s day the property was called “The Eagle’s Nest”, which, funnily, is the same name as Hitler’s retreat at Obersalzberg.

* * *

imageWhat’s going on? There were no fewer than three stories in The Weekend Australian about retiring Family Court judge Paul Guest (pic) – all by journalist Kate Legge.

There was a front page lead about property and money splits, with Guesty holding forth about divorce distributions being “dumbed down” as a result of talented (male) spouses being robbed of bigger hunks of the matrimonial pie; a page six story about the torment he still suffers as a result of not winning the coxless pairs at the Mexico Olympics 40 years ago; and half of page 22 recapping both these harrowing tales, with the headline “Justice of the peace”.

Give us a break.

How come this fairly minor identity in the judicial food chain gets such a vast expanse of pulped forest, particularly as he’s not saying anything authoritative or interesting?

However, there were some memorable flourishes for the readers. My favourite:

“During 10 years on the court and 29 years as a barrister specialising in family law he has worked much like a peacekeeper in the Middle East, living with conflict, bent on reconciling the irreconcilable.”

As Guesty himself modestly noted:

“I’ve done my best.”

A Nobel Prize for the man, please.

* * *

imageFormer deputy senior crown prosecutor Patrick Power (pic) was back in court last Tuesday (May 6).

The bar ‘n’ grill submitted to the Court of Appeal (Beazley, Hodgson and McColl) that Power was guilty of professional misconduct and not a fit and proper person and should be removed from the jam roll.

Power, who, last year, served a brief sentence for possession of child porn, consented to that, but the bar wanted to bang a few more nails into the coffin.

It asked the court to make findings about additional conduct that was not the subject of earlier charges, viz:

  • Power’s alleged lying to Greg Smith, the then deputy DPP, that the porn content on his computer was probably downloaded by people staying at his home; and
  • Putting another computer hard drive beyond the search warrant.

    The court is reserved.

    * * *

    imageDefamation brief Tom Molomby is in barrister Tania Evers’ (pic) corner over assertions in the tissues that as a result of her three-day hammering of an alleged victim in a rape case the trial was aborted.

    The claims were made in a Paul Sheehan rant in The Sydney Morning Herald and a front page story in The Daily Smellograph.

    Sheehan claimed that Judge Freeman closed down the hearing because the “marathon defence cross-examination had caused the trial to ‘run off the rails’.”

    The earlier story in the Smellograph said that Evers had been referred to the Legal Services Commissioner by DPP Nick Cowdery.

    Janet Fife-Yeoman’s reported that Evers “ignored repeated warnings by trial judge David Freeman to rein in her questioning of the young woman” before he aborted the trial in the fifth week.

    On May 2 the SMH headed off some of the damage with an apology to Tania Evers. It said that Sheehan was incorrect:

    “The Herald accepts that the trial involved nine charges relating to events on five days; that Ms Evers’s cross-examination took less than two days; that the judge did not say her cross-examination had caused the trial to run off the rails; that the judge did not abort the trial because of her cross-examination but because of the prosecutor’s cross-examination of a defence witness 10 days later.

    The Herald withdraws any suggestion to the contrary and apologises to Ms Evers for any hurt and embarrassment caused.”

    No public apology from Murdoch’s merde factory, as yet.

    * * *

    Talking of an absence of apologies what can we make of legal affairs editor Chris Merritt’s lurching coverage in The Australian of Justice Rod (The God) Howie’s finding’s in the Fairfax contempt case?

    Sydney Morning Herald reporter Liz Sexton was charged with contempt after she used the word “derail” in an article to describe action taken by the Pan Pharmaceuticals boss Jim Salim. The sentence read:

    “Mr Selim has also faced long delays in two sets of criminal proceedings relating to Pan’s closure. Last week he failed in a bid to derail his District Court retrial on charges of tampering with evidence relating to the travel sickness product [by appealing to the Court of Criminal Appeal].”

    Dizzo judge Robert Sorby rashly discharged the jury in the Salim case and aborted the trial.

    Later Howie found that Sexton’s report was not prejudicial and that neither she nor the paper were guilty of contempt. In a first draft of the judgment released to the parties Howie nonetheless attacked Sexton as being either “incompetent or arrogant”.

    She is neither and the judge must have realised this was way over the top and the phrase was withdrawn from the online version of the judgment.

    The first judgment was described by the court as an “unauthorised” version.

    However, Merritt had not checked the amended judgment and went to town in his legal affairs column, gloating over the judge’s attack:

    “It’s a great pity that the Herald chose not to report this criticism of its reporter.”

    Next day, after Sexton had rung The Australian to point out that the insulting words were not in the subsequent edition of the judgment, Little Merritt suggested the court should apologise to Sexton.

    No suggestion he should apologise.

    He said it would have been “good form” if Howie had apologised to Sexton rather than simply express regret.

    Since he was the one who started to gleefully rub-in Howie’s initial harsh attack this lecture about “good form” from one of Rupert’s hacks is a little hard to swallow.

    * * *

    NSW Attorney General Happy Hatzistergos told parliament last week (Tuesday May 6) of some important “initiatives” to improve the jury system.

    They include overhauling the jury telephone system and a 1300 number for a jury information line; a new information website ; upgrading furniture and equipment used by juries at courts throughout the state; improvements to the food and beverages provided to jurors; a new customer service charter for court staff; and a “plain English” jury summons and information brochure.

    That should fix it.

    * * *

    Sydney lawyer John Landerer has added another gong to his groaning cabinet of awards, medals, distinctions, honorary degrees, and baubles.

    imageAccording to a press release modestly titled “ITALIAN STAR AWARD FOR PROMINENT LAWYER” he has been awarded the Commendatore dell’Ordine della Stella della Solidarietà Italiana or Commander in the Order of the Star of Italian Solidarity.

    It turns out Landerer is a keen admirer of Italian fashion and he says he comes from “a fashion background”.

    He’s backing a scholarship for Aussie fashion graduates to study at Milan’s Instituto di Design.

    Bravo Giovanni.

    Here is is (left) with the Italian Consul in Sydney, Benedetto Latteri (right).

    * *

    Other important appointments have been unveiled.

    The NSW government has chosen Labor favourite Alan Kirkland as the new CEO of the Legal Aid Commission – all done at arms length by a recruitment committee.

    Kirkland is currently executive director of the Australian Law Reform Commission and was formerly executive director of the NSW Council of Social Service.

    His main job will be to manage the legal aid budget, which in turn means trying to manage the bizarre NSW Treasurer, Michael Costa-Lotta.

    Kirkland replaces Bill Grant who has been secretary general of the Law Council of Australia since January.

    Grant also remains listed as chairman of the NSW Victims Advisory Board, the body which will soon be hearing from the victims of the former Aboriginal Affairs Minister Milton (The Acropolis) Orkopoulos.

    The NSW Labor government holds Kirkers in high regard. He has served on statutory bodies including the Administrative Decisions Tribunal, the Youth Justice Advisory Council and the Sustainability Advisory Council.

    In State Parliament last week (May 6) and earlier in April there was an almighty row when Andrew Constance, Liberal MP for Bega, raised the prickly subject of political appointments to the government’s quasi-judicial bodies.

    In particular, Constance mentioned the Consumer, Trader and Tenancy Tribunal and its high-profile former member, Bondi Junction solicitor George Newhouse.

    Newhouse’s membership of the tribunal became an issue on the eve of the federal election after it emerged he had sent a late and undated resignation letter in an attempt to meet the electoral requirements in order to stand for Labor against (Mad) Malcolm Turnbull in Wentworth.

    imageIn Victoria AG Rob (F*&%$@^) Hulls has announced that Emilios Kyrou (pic), a Mallesons’ partner, and Peter Vickery QC are to head to the Supreme.

    Years ago Kyrou co-authored with former County Court judge Gordon Lewis a book called Handy Hints on Legal Practice.

    The chapter “Sex in the Office” was particularly instructive as the authors sought to design a scheme to determine when intercourse with clients would either be appropriate or improper.

    They decided it would be inappropriate where a practitioner acted for “a distressed and confused female client in a matrimonial matter” or if a “poor client” offers a leg-over by way of payment for legal fees.

    “On the other hand, if a practitioner is acting for a client in a commercial matter and they become friends and eventually have sexual intercourse, it is unlikely that the practitioner would be held to have acted improperly.”



Reader Comments

Posted by: Anonymous
Date: May 15, 2008, 3:33 am

I am so sick of boring, grey men who all look exactly the same getting these judicial and senior legal administration appointments. It perpetuates the lack of diversity we see on the bench and in our institutions. When will governments start appointing women and non-European men to plum jobs?? EVER?? Yours in exasperation and fury.
Posted by: Anonymous
Date: May 15, 2008, 3:34 am

While not for one moment wishing to be seen to minimize the seriousness of Patrick Power's offence, isn't the Bar Association's continued action against him just piling it on a bit too thick? The man has served his sentence, has been struck off, has lost his livelihood, and his reputation is irreparable - for as long as he lives, his name will never again appear without the words "disgraced Crown Prosecutor" in front of it. What more do they want? It seems to me that Greg Smith, being both a Catholic and a member of the Liberal Party, and apparently accepting what THEY say at face value, is hardly qualified to distinguish truth from lies.
Posted by: Anonymous
Date: May 20, 2008, 11:57 pm

Further on the Power matter - in relation to the second allegation that he put another computer hard drive beyond the search warrant - because of the guilty plea, there was no cross-examination on the computer evidence. Perhaps there should have been. I am no computer expert, but it's the first I've heard of a computer having two hard drives, and as I understand it, one would have to break the computer open to remove the hard drive. There is a good article on digital evidence and the necessity for specialised expertise in dealing with it, (as well as an apparent lack of recognition of this by lawyers) in Hearsay, the Queensland Bar Association journal at