Category Archives: Law

The media reacts to High Court decision

Today the High Court of Australia announced it would hear Cardinal Pell’s application to appeal his conviction. This was a relief to those convinced of the Cardinal’s innocence and who had found the legal processes so far a total farce, threatening to perpetrate the greatest miscarriage of justice Australia has seen and make Australia’s judicial system seem the dickie thing of a tinpot dictatorship.

Those media members of the Pell lynch mob were off the mark within seconds (I checked). It was the usual thing about the ‘disgraced’ or ‘paedophile’ Cardinal with the repetition of the charges for which Cardinal Pell was convicted, but no mention that the conviction was on the uncorroborated evidence of the faceless complainant while 20 witnesses said the charges were impossible. Nor was it mentioned that legal people around the world at the very least wonder about the integrity of Australia’s legal system.

Continue reading The media reacts to High Court decision

Summary of the Pell Papers

Chris S Friel working from the other side of the world has done outstanding work on the Cardinal Pell Affair. He has produced a series of sharp compelling analyses of all the important features of Cardinal’s conviction for sexual abuse of a minor. Friel’s work will be in the frontline of any research serious investigators undertake in scrutinising of one of the most shocking sets of circumstances in Australia’s history.

On the eve of The High Court of Australia’s decision about allowing an appeal, Friel has posted an extremely useful summary of the work he has done. One can access it on the Academia website. I have produced it below.

SUMMARY OF THE PELL PAPERS

by Chris S Friel

This is a brief summary of the work I have done on the Pell case followed by a bibliographical note also on my Academia page, “The Pell Papers.” I shall refer to the number of each paper (in text) where the article for each number is identified in the list immediately following.

I began writing with (1, 2) which drew attention to what I thought two key issues, namely, the way that the story of the complainant had shifted, and of the difficulties I saw in Milligan’s Cardinal. Much of the subsequent work involved trying to clear up the ambiguities, and an overview can be found in a long review of Milligan’s book (22). This was written in July, between the appeal hearing and the ruling. I look at:

  • The Get Pell Network
  • The significance of the Southwell Inquiry
  • The various coincidences in timing that indicate how, around the time when the complainant went to the police, various “memories” were suspiciously reconstructed in order to implicate Pell.
Continue reading Summary of the Pell Papers

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.

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.

My Cardinal Pell section

I have set up a section on my website which is devoted to Cardinal Pell. My intention is cover all aspects of the Cardinal’s life, not only his conviction for sexual abuse. It is a long term project. My mission statement is as follows:

Most people will see this photo as representative either of a corrupt Church harbouring a despicable paedophile who with justice should be given over to the lynch mob that has relentlessly stalked him. Or they will see reflected in the humiliated handcuffed cardinal a screaming injustice, the collapse of reason, the trashing of the justice system, and the degradation of Australian society. It is especially the collapse of reason that should alarm the ordinary Australian.

The judges of the majority judgement rejecting Cardinal Pell’s appeal seem to know nothing about the rules of reason. They seem not to know that abstractly speaking matters of fact could always be otherwise, that nothing is impossible except a contradiction, that judgements about reliability and trustworthiness are based on the empirical evidence. No rational person trusts someone without convincing evidence. The more critical the trust, the greater the need for sound concrete evidence.

When I examine the empirical evidence surrounding the accuser’s charges (so lucidly discussed by the dissenting judge), I cannot but conclude that this hidden anonymous man has concocted and acted out a story to fool the gullible, buoy the bigot, and serve the aims of the Cardinal’s political enemies, including those in his Church.

The accuser’s project is of such extraordinary daring that I further conclude he has the help and backing of political groups who have hatched a long term plan to destroy Cardinal Pell. Whatever happens regarding a High Court appeal, they have succeeded. Cardinal Pell has been become a martyr to the religious and political beliefs he has so forcefully defended.

A final conclusion is that no religious or political conservative in Australia is safe.

In this section of my website, I will continue to examine the evidence, critique the conviction and attempt to get behind what is known or claimed.

I do not encourage anyone to break the law, but I appeal to those with knowledge about the Pell Affair that has not been made public to contact me. Confidentiality is assured.

This is a continuing project.

Julia Yost’s review of ‘Cardinal’

Julia Yost’s excellent 2017 review of Louise Milligan’s book Cardinal: The Rise and Fall of George Pell is worth another look.

Cardinal: The Rise and Fall of George Pell
louise milligan
melbourne, 277 pages, $11.21

George Cardinal Pell was charged last week with multiple counts of sexual abuse of children. He currently resides in Rome, tasked with cleaning up the Vatican finances. In the coming weeks he will fly to his native Australia, where he vows to fight all charges. His successor in the see of Sydney, Archbishop Anthony Fisher, advises letting the justice system take its course.

Australian civil authorities have yet to announce the number and nature of the offenses with which Pell is charged. But allegations against Pell have been accumulating for years. He stands publicly accused of complicity in a sex abuse coverup in the diocese of Ballarat in the 1970s and early 1980s; complicity in a sex abuse coverup in the archdiocese of Melbourne in the late 1980s and 1990s; and various counts of child molestation, assault, and indecent exposure, from 1961 through 1997.

Read on…