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Bar Talk
1 June, 2007  
Sex, drugs and death

The legal profession is blessed that exemplars of virtue such as Peter Faris and Isaac Brott are on hand to lead everyone through the shadow of Peter Hayes’ death

imageThe news that the Melbourne bar n’ grill is awash with drugs, booze, egos and hookers caught everyone by surprise, although there has been a rear-guard attempt to deny it.

The death of Peter Hayes in a state of deshabille in an Adelaide hotel room brought out the best spirit of the bar.

The ever-helpful Peter Faris was to the fore with the assertion that the council of the bar n’ grill was in a state of denial about drug infused barristers.

Solicitor Isaac Brott went in harder, saying that Hayesey was a drug addict.

No one who has spoken-up has actually seen Hayes ingesting drugs – but this scarcely matters since he appeared to behave “erratically” and was “highly eccentric”.

Another unnamed barrister told The Australian that Hayes was “seriously bipolar”.

Sir Laurence Street thought that Hayes was “unpredictable in court”. He assumed it was just part of his forensic style and never attributed it to drugs. In fact, he had never seen a barrister under the influence of drugs, ever.

It gets better. The VicBar ethics committee did not investigate a complaint Brott made two years ago about Hayesey and his pill popping on the ground that his allegations amounted to “conjecture”. Brott says that decision might have cost Hayes his life, i.e. the ethics committee is culpable for his death.

A hospital worker from Adelaide stepped forward with a leak from Hayes’ treatment file, saying that the “flamboyant” silk tested positive to “levels” of cocaine and heroin.

Legal ethicist Ysaiah (formerly Stan) Ross, writing in The Australian called for random drug tests for lawyers.

The following week the former Stan announced he wants lawyers to have a proper dob-in-a-colleague scheme, since substance abuse has “brought the profession into disrepute”.

The Australian’s legal affairs editor, Chris Merritt, said lawyers need their heath formally surveyed. He added that Hayes was a “drug-using loon” and that his case just shows that the entire silk system is a “sick joke”.

Ethicist Ross managed to point to as many as three serious drug related cases affecting lawyers in the last six years: Andrew Fraser, David Quick and now Peter Hayesey.

imageI just hope the whole thing doesn’t mean that the ethics watchdogs ban lawyers from fooling around in hotel rooms with drugs and hookers.

Fortunately, we’ve had self-effacing lawyers of inspirational rectitude, such as as Peter Faris and Isaac Brott, to show the way on this vital issue. Where would we be without them – particularly as hard facts seem to be a bit thin on the ground?

Ysaiah Ross also has inspirational qualities. Among other things he’s the NSW representative of the Institute for Inner Studies Inc, president of the NSW Pranic Healing Association and, according to the pranic healing website, he has conducted workshops on inner vision, business ethics and tachyon energy.

For the uninitiated, pranic healing delves into peoples’ auras. Healers can see the aura of a healthy person as a glowing field of white light and pure colours. The aura of an unhealthy persdon is seen as “tangled, torn or ‘dirty’.”

While The Australian was pushing Brott as an exemplar of legal virtue, The Australian Financial Review spoiled the fun by pointing out a string of his runs-ins with the stipes, including: a conflict of interest in the sale of a client’s property, setting aside an unreasonable costs agreement, his successful appeal against a conviction for forgery, plus further matters still before VCAT, including accepting instructions from someone allegedly incapable of giving instructions.

It was left to Melbourne underworld identity Mick Gatto to show some decent respect. In a death notice in the Hun, Gatto said of Hayes:

“An absolute gentleman. Your support in hard times has not gone forgotten. Condolences to the family. Rest in peace.”

After carefully surveying leading, but unnamed, lights in the legal caper I find that most of them believe there would be few better ways to shuffle off the mortal coil than wrapped in a delicious cocktail of sex and drugs.


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