Category Archives: Australia

A BLIGHT ON THE WHOLE CRIMINAL JUSTICE SYSTEM

Many powerful compelling pieces have been written attacking and deploring Cardinal Pell’s conviction for the sexual abuse of two minors. Noteworthy are Keith Windschuttle’s and Andrew Bolt’s demonstration that the alleged abuse was impossible given the complainant’s timeline. In his article below, retired lawyer Anthony Charles Smith raises frightening questions about Australia’s legal system and the competence of those on the bench. Like many others, he points out that the Pell conviction shows nobody is safe in Australia at the moment. The article appeared in the September issue of Annals Australasia.

A BLIGHT ON THE WHOLE CRIMINAL JUSTICE SYSTEM

By Anthony Charles Smith

I am not a Roman Catholic and don’t write this from any religious perspective but rather these days as a retired barrister very troubled by the charging and conviction of George Pell.

I spent nearly thirty years of my working life at the Bar to 2013, a substantial quantity of that practice was as a defence barrister. I have read the particulars of the allegations against the accused Cardinal George Pell and the circumstances in which they were made. I have also read Frank Brennan’s analysis of the evidence presented at the trial. I have read opinions on the trial such as that of the left-wing barrister Greg Barns and the author John Silvester in “The Age”. I have read the relevant portions of the Court of Appeal’s majority judgment and the dissenting judgment. I have also read Paul Kelly’s lengthy article in the “Weekend Australian” following the decision of the Court of Appeal.

In the 1980s and early 90s, I say without the slightest hesitation that these allegations would have been given short shrift by competent, experienced Crown Prosecutors. They lack any corroboration, are fanciful beyond rational belief and contain within them internal inconsistencies of an irreconcilable nature as to time, opportunity, practicality, place and circumstance.

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‘Catholic Tradition Alive and Well in the Antipodes’

Remnant Newspaper reported on the recent Bendigo pilgrimage.

Catholic Tradition Alive and Well in the Antipodes

Written by  Kathy Clubb | Australian Correspondent


It’s refreshing to be able to present an article about something positive happening in the Church, as a change from exposing dissent and heresy. Last weekend, Australia’s largest traditional Catholic event was held in honour of Christ the King. The annual Christus Rex pilgrimage is our answer to the Paris to Chartres pilgrimage and encouragingly, is growing in popularity, especially among young people.

The Christus Rex Pilgrimage (CREX) was established 29 years ago to honour the feast of Christ the King, as promulgated by Pope Pius XI in his encyclical Quas Primas. Pilgrims walk 90 kilometres over three days, finishing at the Bendigo Cathedral on the Feast of Christ the King. The walk is physically demanding, but pilgrims are joyful, offering their pains for the good of Holy Mother Church and their own intentions. This year, in accordance with an appeal from Bishop Schneider, the last leg of the trip was offered as reparation for the sins of idolatry committed in Rome during the Amazon synod.

Read on…

Will the High Court show how degraded Australia’s legal system is?

Or will it correct the greatest miscarriage of justice in Australia’s history?

Victoria’s politically corrupt newspaper reports that the High Court of Australia will announce on Wednesday morning whether Cardinal Pell can appeal his conviction for sexual abuse, a charge made by a consummate liar who will not show his face.

The Pell conviction – a failure of the basic rules of reason

A number of times I have claimed that the two (supposedly) eminent judges who rejected Cardinal Pell’s appeal, (Chief Justice Anne Ferguson and Court of Appeal president Chris Maxwell) seem to know nothing about the rules of reason. They seem not to know that abstractly speaking matters of fact can always be otherwise, that nothing is impossible except a contradiction, that judgements about reliability and trustworthiness are based on the empirical evidence.

Chris Merritt, legal affairs editor at The Australian, commented (18 September) on Cardinal Pell’s appeal to the High Court in which the Cardinal’s lawyers take up the question of reasoning – or rather the failure of reason.

The State’s System of Justice Put on Trial

By Chris Merritt

BRET WALKER SC is an old-fashioned stickler for precise legal language. That is why his clinical evisceration of the judges who ruled against George Pell is so effective. Without a skerrick of emotion or one wasted word. Walker has torn the guts out of the Court of Appeal majority who rejected the cardinal’s appeal against convictions for sexually assaulting choirboys.

The special leave application drawn up by Walker and barrister Ruth Shann leads to an unstated but obvious conclusion: two of Victoria’s most senior judges utterly botched the cardinal’s case, not just on the facts but on the law. For the two judges who formed the majority, Chief Justice Anne Ferguson and Court of Appeal president Chris Maxwell, this document will make extremely difficult reading. Walker is widely regarded as one of the nation’s greatest lawyers. Yet his signature appears at the end of a document that accuses Ferguson and Maxwell of effectively reversing the onus of proof, engaging in “unorthodox reasoning,” “circular reasoning” and “erroneous judicial method”.

If the High Court agrees to hear this appeal, it will need to grapple with those arguments and determine whether the judicial method demonstrated by Ferguson and Maxwell is actually as flawed as Walker and Shann believe. The stakes are staggeringly high. This affair now concerns not just the freedom of a cardinal but the continued public standing of Victoria’s top judges and the man who might well be the nation’s greatest lawyer.

If the assessment of Walker and Shann is accepted by the High Court, it will amount to a crippling blow for Ferguson and Maxwell.

But consider the position of Walker and Shann. If this appeal fails, they will stand accused by their peers of making extraordinary assertions – amounting to judicial ineptitude – against the two most senior judges in Victoria. Whoever loses this argument will forever be damaged goods. But as things stand now, Walker and Shann have the better argument. It does look as though the cardinal has been the victim of a shocking miscarriage of justice.

In order to succeed, Pell’s legal team merely needed to show there was a reasonable doubt about the prosecution’s case. The onus of proof was up to the prosecution; it was not up to the cardinal to prove his innocence. Yet the special leave application asserts that the Court of Appeal majority decided the cardinal’s fate on the improper basis that it was up to the defence to prove that the prosecution case was impossible. If this is what happened – and a conclusive ruling is up to the High Court – it will devastate Victoria’s system of Criminal justice.

Jock Palfreeman and Bulgarian Justice

I have opened a page on Jock Palfreeman the Australian jailed in Bulgaria for killing a Bulgarian student son of a Bulgarian politician with enormous pull. The page provides news and updates on the case. If ever there was a case for Australian government intervention in overseas issues, this is it. Palfreeman has spent 11 years in jail, a third of his life. It’s enough whatever the case. Australia and Australians must raise their voice to what has become a political jailing engineered by powerful political forces behind the scenes.

John Howard’s tribute to Cardinal Pell

The lynch mob and sanctimonious weak-minded radio big-mouths did not deter former Prime Minister John Howard from providing a reference on behalf of Cardinal Pell to the Appeal Court . No screaming rope-carrying lynch mob would intimidate Australia’s most effective prime minister after Sir Robert Menzies.

This character reference is provided in the context of charges being dealt with in relation to Cardinal Pell.

I am aware he has been convicted of those charges; that an appeal against the conviction has been lodged and that he maintains his innocence in respect of these charges. None of these matters alter my opinion of the Cardinal.

I have known Cardinal Pell for approximately 30 years. We first became acquainted when he was, I think, an Assistant Bishop in the Archdiocese of Melbourne. Inevitably we became better known to each other after he became Archbishop of Melbourne and, later still, Archbishop of Sydney.

Cardinal Pell is a person of both high intelligence and exemplary character. Strength and sincerity have always been features of his personality. I have always found him to be lacking hypocrisy and cant. In his chosen vocation he has frequently displayed much courage and held to his values and beliefs, irrespective of the prevailing wisdom of the time.

Cardinal Pell is a lively conversationalist who maintains a deep and objective interest in contemporary social and political issues.

It is my view that he has dedicated his life to his nation and his church.”

– John Howard, Former Prime Minister of Australia

Cardinal Pell lodges High Court Appeal

THE COLLAPSE OF REASON

CathNews reported today a brief summary of the grounds for Cardinal Pell’s appeal to the High Court of Australia. Those grounds as summarised by the Cardinal’s lawyers amount to the charge that Justices Ferguson and Maxwell of the majority opinion rejected the basic rules of reason.

[Cardinal Pell’s] lawyers argue that the Victoria’s Court of Appeal mistakenly reversed the onus of proof when hearing his case, forcing him to prove it was impossible for him to sexually assault two choirboys in a cathedral.

In their application, Cardinal Pell’s barristers, Bret Walker SC and Ruth Shann, said the two judges who upheld Cardinal Pell’s convictions “erred by finding their belief in the complainant required (Pell) to establish the offending was impossible in order to raise and leave a doubt”.

Read on…

Note: abstractly speaking nothing is impossible except a contradiction (See David Hume). Truth in concrete circumstances depends on the empirical data, not on abstract propositions.

Activists bullying businesses

The Sydney Morning Herald reports today that Alan Jones’s breakfast show is to undergo a ‘full review’. This report should be read carefully.

What’s at the heart of the issue is the extreme left’s ongoing campaign to neutralise conservative Alan Jones. This is the crucial paragraph conservatives should take as a warning.

‘The boycott [of Alan Jones], which was led by social media activist groups Mad F–king Witches and Sleeping Giants Oz, has resulted in more than 100 brands distancing themselves from Sydney’s 2GB Breakfast Show. Media sources estimate it has cost the network more than $1 million.’

Standover, intimidation, wrecking, sabotage… nothing is beyond the drooling fanatics of the left. The foulest, the most abusive, and the most slanderous of attacks emanate from the left. Where is Australia going? The left continue to take all before it.

Australian Justice in the Dock

George Weigel of DC’s Ethics and Public Policy has said in First Things what many of us believe: Australian Justice is in the Dock. To make his point, he provides a timeline of what Cardinal Pell was subjected to from 2013 to the present. He concludes:

In the wake of last month’s incomprehensible and (as measured by Judge Weinberg’s dissent) dangerous rejection of Cardinal Pell’s appeal, Catholic voices were heard expressing (or demanding) respect for the justice system in Australia. Perhaps the Vatican press spokesman must say such things for diplomatic purposes, although the reason why diplomatic concerns trump truth and justice in the Holy See Press Office is unclear. But as this chronology indicates, there is no reason to respect a process that reeks of system failure at every point, from the dubious and perhaps corrupt police investigation through the committal hearing, the two trials, and the appeal. There are guilty parties here. But Cardinal George Pell is not one of them.

As this scandalous process approaches the High Court of Australia, friends of Australia, both Down Under and throughout the world, must send a simple message, repeatedly: George Pell is an innocent man who was falsely accused and has been unjustly convicted of crimes he did not commit. It is not George Pell who is in the dock, now, but the administration of justice in Australia. And the only way to restore justice is for Cardinal Pell to be vindicated by the highest court in the land.

Those who cannot bring themselves to say that, in Australia or elsewhere, necessarily share in the ignominy that Australian criminal justice has, thus far, brought upon itself.