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Only in America
29 September, 2009  
State of Excitement

Pillsbury Flom visits Perth and is entranced by the Lloyd Rayney case … The State of WA is in an exquisitely delicate position … Meanwhile, an important new development in the case against Anna Nicole Smith’s “professional” advisors

I returned briefly to Perth this month where the Rayney defamation case was yet again back before Chief Justice Wayne Martin of the Supreme Court of Western Australia.

imageHis Honor’s patience has been sorely tested by the state’s delays culminating in his judicial directive at the most recent hearing that it will need to “put up or shut up.”

The state is called upon to defend the words of Detective Senior Sergeant Jack Lee (seen here), who led the investigation into the murder of Corryn Rayney, the estranged wife of former DPP prosecutor, Lloyd Rayney.

Jack held a presser soon after the murder where he identified Lloyd as the only suspect in circumstances where the coppers had just raided both his home and chambers and Rayney was at that moment being held for questioning.

Lloyd had resigned from the DPP in 2006 and set up shop at Francis Burt Chambers, where he is still listed.

However, since Jack’s presser Lloyd’s trips to court have been confined to those occasions where he has appeared as a party.

Lloyd is said by his solicitor, Martin Bennett, to be living on funds borrowed by his family.

He has filed particulars of his special damages, which are in the millions supported by an expert report on his loss of income as a barrister.

In his affidavit, Rayney says the cops have destroyed his career along with his capacity to support his children.

He states that both he and his family have been subjected to public ridicule and shame and gives specific instances of such occasions.

imageThis is not the kind of defamation case that is likely to go away with a modest payment by the state and some nice words of assuagement.

The State of WA (otherwise known as the State of Excitement) finds itself in an exquisitely delicate position.

The imputation pleaded is that Rayney murdered his wife (pic).

The imputation has survived a pleadings attack and the state has not taken truth as a defense.

Rather, it has pleaded qualified privilege, but resisted giving particulars of why the statements were reasonable and further resisted producing documents relating to the investigation on the ground of public interest immunity.

Early this year, the Chief Justice looked at the documents privately, and concluded the ground was made out at that time, but has now made it clear at the latest hearing that the state will either have to give proper particulars of its defense, which likely involves disclosing the public interest immunity documents, or the defense will be struck out.

Meanwhile, a huge collection of forensic material collected from the Rayneys’ house has been shipped overseas for testing and the results have been delayed interminably.

The state says no details of any of this can be disclosed again on public interest immunity grounds.

The Chief had hoped the whole forensics issue might be resolved by the end of June, as had been suggested by the state, but no such luck.

The partly hidden agenda is that the State of Excitement wants to advance a Polly Peck defense that the words rather bore the imputation that Rayney was a suspect which was both true and reasonable in the circumstances having regard to the evidence that had at that stage been uncovered.

imageBut it cannot do so without disclosing the documents subject to the public interest immunity claim.

Little wonder the CJ was moved to pithily direct that the state must “put up or shut up.”

Lloyd (pic) either has giant gonads, or is confident the state does not have enough to charge him.

Certainly, he might take comfort from the history of the WA criminal justice system, which shows a propensity to lay murder charges on flimsy evidence, suggesting the coppers cannot even satisfy that modest standard in the Rayney case.

On the other hand, if Rayney was charged the civil proceedings would be stayed and the state relieved of its predicament, at least until the criminal proceedings were concluded.


* * *

The unnatural death of an American celebrity is a tabloid gift that keeps on giving.

imageThe case against Anna Nicole Smith’s former boyfriend, lawyer Howard Stern, and her two doctors, for conspiring to illegally supply her with controlled substances has taken another salacious turn.

Pic: Smith, Stern and baby Smith-Stern

One of the doctors charged, who was her treating psychiatrist, Dr Khristine Eroshevich, apparently found the couch somewhat prosaic for Anna’s therapy and preferred them both sitting in the bathtub naked and intimately embracing.

Photographs recording the novel form of treatment were found on Anna’s computer.

But Dr. Eroshevich’s inventiveness was trumped by her attorney who in answer to the allegations said the relationship began as a “friendship” before turning into a doctor/patient relationship.

What a stunningly brilliant inversion of the usual story.