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Evan Whitton
18 December, 2008  
Whitton's World

‘Tis the he season for pardons … Prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald overly staggered by Blagojevich … Dominick Dunne curiously incurious … All The Daily Ruperts better get on message about Rupert Max Stuart … Human Rights Watch

Free Neddy

imageArthur Stanley (Neddy) Smith (pic), 64, has been in prison for 19 years, possibly for the only murder he did not commit.

Neddy has rendered the state some service. In Operation Milloo, for 12 months from November 1992, he gave the Independent Commission Against Corruption details of Sydney’s heroically corrupt cops.

Neddy has now asked to be let out on the ground of Parkinson’s disease, but that monument of rectitude, the NSW Government, says he can rot in prison until he dies.

The pardon season

It’s the quadrennial pardon season, and Washington is bracing itself for a blizzard on Xmas Eve or January 20, or both.

Now that a bipartisan congressional committee has traced torture to George Bush’s action memorandum on February 7, 2002, lawyers will be working feverishly to find a way to drop a blanket pardon over everyone who gave the nod to that criminal practice.

We know it’s criminal because in 2005 Corporal Charles Graner got 10 years and Private Lynndie England got three years for abusing prisoners at Abu Ghraib.

They won’t get a pardon but lawyer Scooter Libby will. He took the fall for Dick Cheney, and perhaps for Karl Rove and George himself, in the Plamegate affair.

Fitzy staggered

For a Chicago prosecutor, Patrick Fitzgerald, staggers easy.

Indicting the famously low-browed Serbian lawyer (and Illinois Governor), Milorad (Bloggo) Blagojevich, 52, on December 9, he said:

imagebq. “The breadth of corruption laid out in these charges is staggering. They allege that Blagojevich put a ‘for sale’ sign on the naming of a United States Senator.”

He should know that Bloggo’s infractions are fairly small beer in a place like Chicago.

It will be recalled, for example, that one fixer for the Chicago Mob, Jake (Greasy Thumb) Guzik (pic), observed:

“You buy a judge by weight, like iron in a junkyard.”

And that another, Murray (The Camel) Humphreys, said:

“The difference between guilt and innocence in any court is who gets to the judge first with the most.”

The Cheney-Bush stables

I like tomato; you like tomayto
I like pragmatic; you like unprincipled
Let’s call the whole thing off.

After eight years of Cheney, Bush, Jack Abramoff and other sleazeoids, Washington needs a thorough cleanout, but B. Obama, 47, seems inclined to let sleeping Augean stables lie.

That need not surprise. A successful Chicago politician, as Obama has been for 11 years, needs a degree in ethical flexibility, and he got his at that temple of sophistry, Harvard Law School.

However, Farxx’s stable of pro-Republican blowhards may upset the applecart.

Their blatherings about Obama’s possible role in the Bloggo scandal, may persuade the President-elect that if the Republicans want it, there’s plenty.

An investigation into the crimes of the Bush administration, not to mention the Bush dynasty, would be a useful start on the Augean front.

Ego Maniac QC

Seymour Washman stated in Confessions of a Defense Attorney (Village Voice, September 28, 1978):

“All successful criminal lawyers I know are egomaniacs … there isn’t a criminal lawyer I know, certainly including myself – who hasn’t interpreted a not guilty verdict as proof of his unique gift, his insight into how to manipulate people.”

That of course is a grand delusion. The verdicts (and the fees they obtain) are mostly due to the system’s anti-truth devices, to judges who conceal evidence, and to the formula, beyond reasonable doubt.

imageFor example, O.J. Simpson used a knife with brutal ferocity to all but sever the heads of his former wife and a man who happened to be in the vicinity. He got off via at least 10 of the devices.

The delusion pains trial reporter Dominick Dunne, 83 (pic). In Vanity Fair (October 2008), he mentioned the Simpson trial and then wrote:

“I hate watching defense attorneys hug and shake hands with one another after they win an acquittal for a man they know is guilty.”

Dunne recalled that in 1984 John Thomas Sweeney’s shyster shouted “I am ecstatic!” when Sweeney “got a traffic-court sentence that let him out after two-and-a-half years” for strangling Dunne’s daughter, Dominique.

Surprisingly, even after 24 years on the celebrity trial circuit, Mr Dunne remains incurious as to why and how the system is unfairly biased in favour of trial lawyers and their clients.

But we need not blame him for that; judges and lawyers are not curious either.

Pardon Rupert

Fifty years ago this week, on Saturday, December 20, 1958, someone raped and murdered Mary Hattam, 9, between 2.30 pm and 3.30 pm in a cave near Thevenard, 770 kilometres west of Adelaide.

At Ceduna, three kilometres from Thevenard, that same day, Norman Gieseman, owner of the Funland Carnival, his wife Edna, and an employee, Betty Hopes, had Rupert Max Stuart (b. 1932) constantly in view while he ran the darts stall between 2 pm and 4 pm

The carnival moved on. Stuart stayed in Ceduna.

On Monday, December 22, Stuart, who was illiterate and spoke a sort of pidgin English, dictated a “confession” to Detective Sergeant Paul Turner, of Adelaide.

It wasn’t even a competent verbal; it was in coppers’ English.

The adversary system works both ways; prosecutors also like to win, and the Stuart trial was Roddy Chamberlain’s last before becoming an untrained judge.

Neither he nor the defence bothered to find out from the carnival people that Stuart had a cast-iron alibi.

In April 1959, he was convicted and sentenced to hang.

Owen Dixon Chambers, Wilfred Fullagar, Alan Taylor, Eddie McTiernan, and Vic Windeyer considered the matter. The only real evidence against Stuart, the confession, was an obvious fraud, but on June 19 they refused leave to appeal.

They did feebly express “some anxiety” about the confession, but that did not trouble Tom Playford (1896-1981), a yokel who was Premier (1938-1965) only because of his vicious malapportionment: a vote in the bush was worth two in Adelaide.

The courts having failed justice and Stuart, it was left to the media to save him from the rope.

Rupert Murdoch, encouraged by his editor at The News, Rohan Rivett, financed Fr Tom Dixon’s expedition in search of the Giesemans.

He found them at Atherton, North Queensland, on July 27.

imageTheir statements obliged Playford to commute the sentence to life and to hold a brazenly rigged inquiry.

On the panel were Sir Geoffrey (Doggy) Reed, the old ASIO guy who put on the black cap for Stuart, Sir Mellis Napier CJ (seen here), who knocked back Stuart’s first appeal. Justice Bruce Ross made up the number.

Sir John Mortimer QC observed in 1983 that a Royal Commission can be a useful vehicle for hiding the truth.

Jack Shand QC, for Stuart, stated that simple fact and walked out of the inquiry. Murdoch repeated it in a splash in The News.

Shand was not charged, but The News and Rivett were, and the charges were grotesque: seditious libel, which is next door to treason, and criminal libel.

Meanwhile, a proper inquiry would have found, at the least, that Stuart should be re-tried and the new evidence put before a jury, but Napier, Reed and Ross said he had been properly convicted.

At the treason trial, Murdoch and Rivett did not give evidence, apparently in order to give Harry Alderman QC, for The News, the last run at the jury.

The jurors threw all he charges out except one, and they were hung on that. It was eventually dropped.

Stuart was paroled in 1973.

In 2000, as Chairman of the Central Land Council, he welcomed Her Majesty to Alice Springs and made her a presentation.

Dr Bob Moles, a British academic lawyer in Adelaide who pursues perversions of justice against the innocent, is now seeking a pardon for Stuart.

I’d have said quash, but it can certainly be shown he did not get anything remotely like a fair trial.

Rupie’s Australian organs, including The Advertiser, which stoutly proclaimed Stuart’s guilt at the time and after, will presumably close the 50-year circle by taking up the matter.

Human rights watch

Many trees are being felled on the merits or otherwise of a charter, or bill, of human rights.

I tend to be in favour, BUT ONLY if the judges who interpret it are trained separately from lawyers. Otherwise it will mainly make money for their former colleagues. See the Barton Hypothesis.

Mark Hagan, of Queens Park (near Bondi Junction) is opposed. He advised Mr Paul Whittaker, Editor of The Oz, on December 11 that he (Mr Hagan) knew of nothing that “indicated why and how the common law system needs such an instrument to protect the freedoms, implicitly and effectively it already provides for us”. He gave two examples:

“Firstly, where is the threat to our freedom to express an opinion which needs remedy by such a statement?”

imageRupie would say the threats include the possibility of a charge of treason and a presumption of guilt.

“Second [says Mr Hagan], no one in this country doubts that citizens enjoy the right to a fair trial when charged with a criminal offence, so where is this right regularly and flagrantly disregarded?”

Max Stuart (pic) would not agree, and neither do Daily Telegraph readers.

Of 7000 polled in 2004, 92 per cent said the system is unfair, and 78 per cent said it favours criminals.