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Evan Whitton
13 November, 2006  
Hold the zeal

How can super-intelligent people on the High Court put their names to guff? ... Dick Cheney now part of Democrats’ “swamp draining” program … Little Johnnie booed at the cricket

Black/grey/pucemail (cont’d)

Q. 3. (see Justinian November 1). If blackmail is the crime of theft by extortion, robbery with threats/menaces etc, which, if any, of the following amount/s to extortion?

a. Making it cheaper for the Tax Office to settle cases of suspected tax evasion.

b. Making it cheaper for defendants to settle cases of alleged negligence or alleged libel.

c. Using brutish/pornographic cross-examination to deter rape victims from giving evidence.

* * *

Pas trop de zele

imageThis organ’s great helmsman obliquely reminded us in his SMH column of October 27 that prosecutors are supposed to have the same motto as Church of England parsons such as O. Wilde’s (snap) Dr Chasuble: pas trop de zele, not too much zeal.

That is, the defence lawyer can resort to any dubious device to win (see above), but the prosecutor has to run dead, or deadish. Some adversary system.

The prosecutor’s role is confirmed by a disturbing passage in a High Court judgment, Subramaniam v The Queen (2004), not to be confused with the famous Privy Council hearsay case, Subramaniam v Public Prosecutor (1956).

In a rare show of unanimity, the court (Gleeson CJ, McHugh, Kirby, Hayne and Callinan) agreed with whoever wrote the judgment that:

“There is no doubt that the prosecution is under a duty to present the case fairly and completely. Long ago, in R v Puddick [1865], Crompton J made the following observation of prosecutors: [they] ‘are to regard themselves as ministers of justice, and not to struggle for a conviction’. In R v Lucas [1973], Smith ACJ said: ‘a prosecution must be conducted … with a single view to determining and establishing the truth’.”

How can super-intelligent people put their names to stuff like that? Rules that conceal the truth mean that prosecutors can never present the case completely or in a way that is fair to victims, the cops, the jurors, and the public.

And if they believe that “determining and establishing the truth” is a good thing, the logic of their position would be to recommend that judges be trained to investigate and “manifest the truth” unimpeded by rules which hide it.

* * *

US election repercussions (cont’d)

I was wrong. And not for the first time, I hear you say.

imageWith so many at risk of prison for “conspiracies to defraud the United States”, (see Justinian November 1), I assumed the Republicans would find a way to steal the election, just as Chicago’s Jake Arvey and Sam Giancana (snap) stole the 1960 election for Jack Kennedy, and, some darkly suspect, Justices Rehnquist, Scalia, Thomas, O’Connor, and Kennedy stole the 2000 election for that great puppet of the mad and bad, G.W. Bush.

No doubt they did their best, but the latest mid-term election proved unstealable and, contrary to the general view, corruption was a rather more significant factor than Iraq.

Exit pollsters who asked people what was extremely important to their vote found that 42 percent said corruption and ethics and 37 percent said Iraq. Democrats even got a third of the votes of Bush’s base: loopy white Christian evangelicals. The Republican debacle thus tended to confirm:

  • Gary Sturgess’s research for the NSW Liberal Party in the early 80s. He found that four per cent will switch their vote solely because of their disgust with corruption. The resulting swing of eight per cent is a landslide.
  • Sculptor A. Hiram Lennon’s axiom: “You can rob all the people some of the time, but you cannot fool all the people all the time.”

    * * *

    imageWith the spectres of pol-bribing Jack Abramoff (see Justinian January 23, 2006) and other scoundrels looming over the elections, the Democrat minority leader in the lower house, Nancy Patricia Pelosi, 66, (snap) caught the mood on October 5.

    Ms Pelosi, who has described Bush as a dangerous liar, pledged that Democrats will “turn the most closed and corrupt Congress into the most open and honest Congress. The only way you can make the change … is to drain the swamp”.

    She will become boss of the House on January 21, and has flagged that the President at common law, R. Cheney, will be part of her swamp-draining programme. She told a post-election interviewer that inquiries will include Halliburton and energy. Both are codes for Cheney.

    Those and other inquiries should keep the corruption issue bubbling away nicely until the presidential elections of 2008.

    * * *

    Republicans having lost control of both houses, trial lawyers have at last seen something for the millions they have flung at Democrats. Tort reform will be firmly off the agenda.

    On the other hand, Democrats may persuade Bush to close the concentration camp at Guantanamo Bay and send back the man, Mr David Hicks, who symbolises the sense of justice exhibited by those well-furnished lawyers, J. Bloward and P. Cruddock.

    And, in what may be exciting news for Jackie, Bunter, Maida, and Jockstrap, Democrats may reopen the Senate inquiry into bribes to Mr Saddam Hussein which was dropped in late 2004 as a favour to Bush’s loyal little ally.

    Here’s a useful summary of what things the Dems might investigate, if their nerve holds.

    * * *

    imageMr Bloward sometimes seems to operate on the assumption that Australians are interested only in sport, war and interest rates, but Iraq and interest rates have come back to bite him on the ankle, and even sport may be a sucked orange.

    The mob at A Prime Minister’s XI v The Poms at Manuka Oval on Friday did not exactly deliver what Milton called “a dismal universal hiss, the sound of public scorn”, but a section did roundly boo the great statesman.


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