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Sir Terence O'Rort
26 October, 2008  
Gibberish dopes the judges

It takes submissions from a dope fiend to have Queensland judges wrapping themselves in extra layers of dignity and producing weighty reasoning about delirious abstractions. Sir Terence O’Rort reports


imageThank God the dignity of the courts, the judiciary and the whole steamy legal edifice of Brisvegas survives intact.

Pages of judicial muscle have been applied to head off cunning and subversive submissions from a dangerous pot head, Mr Peter Till.

Till had been apprehended in the Brisbane Botanic Gardens by two local plod who reported that he had “bloodshot eyes and dishevelled clothing”.

If only they’d hung around the Brisbane Club late on a Friday afternoon they’d have found half the legal profession in the same condition.

The coppers had a smashing victory against the subversive Till who was convicted of possession of less than a gram of cannabis sativa.

However, that was just the beginning of the excitement.

On one of his visits to the Brisbane Magistrates Court the accused thought it was an excellent idea to bring a couple of cannabis sativa plants to court to bolster his defence of the unlawful possession charge.

One plant was about 90 centimetres in height and the other about 30 centimetres. They were in his bag which passed through the court’s security x-ray screen only to be detected by the scrupulously alert staff who called in the coppers.

The whole episode was recorded on camera by the court’s security system.

Till was convicted on both the Botanic Gardens and the Magistrates Court offences. For the first he got 40 hours community service and the second two months in the nick, suspended for an operational period of 12 months.

He appealed against conviction and sentence in both cases.

He drew District Court Judge John (Trainspotter) McGill, best known for executing former Supreme Court Taxing Officer Bob Houghton.

McGill accepted submissions from a stranger who bowled into the court, handed up documents and then “announced he was going for a walk, and left the courtroom”.

Helpfully, this curious stranger is referred to in the judgment as, “Unidentified representative for the appellant”.

Things were further disadvantaged by the Trainspotter’s inability to understand the appellant’s submissions, which he described as “essentially unintelligible”. For instance:

“I am a sovereign being living in a sovereign estate in the greater universe continuum. Sovereignty is not subject to law, it is the law and its greatest claim to power is that IT and nothing else is the law.”

The “essentially unintelligible” quality of the case did not prevent the judge from plunging headlong into the doctrine of “sovereign immunity”.

The 1894 case of Mighell v Sultan of Johore got a run, as did the slightly more topical R v Bow Street Metropolitan Stipendiary Magistrate, ex parte Pinochet Ugarte.

Nigh on Conflict of Laws in Australia and an unpublished thesis on sovereign immunity in international law were also of assistance in formulating the opinion that Mr Till was not the Sultan of Brunei or any other head of state, or even subject to the protection of the Vienna convention on diplomatic immunity.

With that vexing problem out of the way, the other question was whether the appellant was using the weed for relief of pain.

According to Mr Till the hooch helped him cope with his bad leg, back pain and headaches.

The Trainspotter subjected the Drugs Misuse Act to detailed analysis on this point and concluded that the legislation did not authorised Till to use cannabis sativa for medicinal purposes.

imageOn seeking an extension of time for his application for leave to appeal Till drew old Downlands boy Martin Daubney (seen here) who delivered the principal judgment of the court.

Downlands alumni are not noted for their loose-thinking, radical views and His Honour is no exception.

In his pre-judicial life the Daubster was not backward in coming forward when someone yelled “Party!”, yet he is certainly no wide-eyed drifter either.

Fortunately, Till tried to keep his new appeal simple. His single ground was, “Judge has no writ of commission”.

To try and clear up any confusion on the part of the appeal bench the appellant submitted:

“I am who I am, I am more that hair, eyes, nose, teeth, skin, body and mind. I am who I am. I am more than fictional words, name, label, birth certificate, Mr, Man, and rock. Till or ens legis which is fiction. I am who I am. I am more a than Mr, mister, or warrant officer which is a fiction or colour of truth. I am who I am. Two say that I am anything else that I am I is a lie or fiction I am who I am. Their is no name to describe who I am I am I am I.”

One of the documents he submitted was headed “notice of want of jurisdiction” in which he described himself as a “vassalee”.

Crystal clear.

The Daubster congratulated Trainspotter for his “considerable scholarship” on the sovereign immunity question and his detailed reasons on s.9 of the Drugs Misuse Act.

He was less generous about Till’s documents, rather dismissively describing them as “gibberish and completely nonsensical”.

He also thought that Till was either, “significantly disconnected with reality or that he was treating the judicial system as a joke”.

Either way no mercy could be shown:

“If he is labouring under the first incapacity it would be quite inappropriate for this court to foster his delusions by encouraging him in the pursuit of this application.

“If Mr Till falls into the second category, his conduct is gross impertinence, and further entertaining his application would do nothing to enhance the dignity of this court.”

I’m looking forward to the special leave application.

Sir Terence ORort reporting