Policy on the Courts

Australians have always had a very high regard for judges and for the courts. If an Australian sued someone and lost, he would blame his lawyer for suggesting that he bring the case. It would never enter anyone’s head that a Judge might be a crook. And then along came the Labor Party.

Labor’s initial meddling with the courts took the form of appointing eccentric but essentially honest Judges such as Justice Lionel Murphy. “The Judgments of Justice Lionel Murphy” are supposed to contain pearls of wisdom. One case involved a criminal whom the Queensland Police found to have trace amounts of an illegal drug in his pocket. Murphy’s position was that it was a trifling amount of drug, and “the law is not concerned with trifles”, so he set aside the conviction.

The law had prohibited possession of the drug. The law could have prohibited possession of trace amounts of the drug, but that goes without saying, you would have thought. Murphy disingenously misinterpreted the law, since it was Murphy's personal opinion that people ought to be able to experiment with drugs. Possession of trace amounts of illegal drugs is not a trifle, as claimed by Murphy, since it indicates a person is either a drug dealer or an addict. Murphy’s other judgments also have little merit, and are all about putting into effect Murphy’s personal opinions, which was not his role as a judge.

Labor’s latest corrupt judges are nowhere near as subtle as Justice Murphy. Instead of misinterpreting the relevant Act of Parliament, the latest corrupt judges will simply pretend to have misunderstood a key witness. The judge will claim that the arresting officer admitted to not finding any drugs on the prisoner. The judge will know very well that the arresting officer said no such thing. Labor’s latest corrupt judges behave as though the court is a branch of the Labor Party that they have stacked.

The latest corrupt judges are so dishonest that some of them have ended up in prison. Justice Marcus Einfeld was convicted of perjury after he gave false evidence to avoid a speeding ticket. The person who he said had been driving his car was in fact dead. Einfeld was sentenced to three years in prison. Most judges are more careful and get away with their crooked activities.

Another judge, Justice Angelo Vasta, had his telephone calls intercepted by the police, who discovered that he was engaged in a conspiracy to evade taxes. He could not be prosecuted, as the recording of his telephone call was inadmissible in evidence. However, he was removed from office as a Judge by the Queensland Parliament, but only because Labor was out of power at the time.

While very few judges have been careless enough to be caught, numerous judges have engaged in activities for which they could be prosecuted. Prosecuting judges is difficult, however, because the Crown Prosecutors are themselves crooked. For example, New South Wales police officers arrested a High Court judge, Justice Michael Kirby, in Kings Cross, together with an underage male. They had a cast-iron case against Justice Kirby for statutory rape. However, the Director of Public Prosecutions announced that they would not prosecute Justice Kirby because the boy was only a year underage.

The decision not to prosecute this High Court Judge as a child molester was wrong. The fact that the boy was a year under the age of consent was a mitigating circumstance and not a defence. Even today it would still be possible to prosecute Justice Kirby, who is now retired. However, Kirby arranged for the age of consent to be lowered. But if the age of consent was changed back to 18, then he could still be prosecuted. The boy has very conveniently died of a drug overdose.

Corrupt prosecutors make out that cases against corrupt judges would have no prospect of success, and would be a waste of taxpayers’ money. Jurors, however, have no reluctance to convict corrupt judges. For example, a few years ago, a criminal case was brought against the then Chief Magistrate of Queensland, Diane Fingleton, and a jury found her guilty. The conviction was set aside on appeal on a technicality, and she resumed being a magistrate. Doubtless Justice Einfeld's conviction would have been set aside on appeal as well, but he pleaded guilty, so he didn't give the appeal judges anything to work with.

These four cases that have come to public attention are of victimless crimes. They are crimes against society rather than against individuals. Most crimes committed by corrupt judges involve victims, that is, people who lose a court case after a judge decides the case corruptly. Everyone knows that if a judge decides a case in favour of a party, after accepting a bribe from the party, that is illegal. It is not necessary for there to be a bribe for it to be illegal. All that is necessary is to prove that the judge knew the case was decided incorrectly.

The most famous court case that the courts decided incorrectly was the “Mabo” case. It is irrelevant whether the Torres Strait Islanders have a moral right to the land of the islands. Legally it had been decided by the highest courts many years ago that they had no rights. Perhaps the government should have passed an Act giving the land to the Torres Strait Islanders. But it is not the role of the courts to be redistributing wealth. The average Australian has heard of the Mabo decision, but they are not aware that outrageous Mabo-style decisions are an everyday occurrence in the Australian courts.

It would be possible to prosecute the corrupt judges who handed down the “Mabo” decision and numerous other corrupt judges. For this to happen, the Australian public will need to vote out the politicians and parties who allowed this to happen. Only the Mainstream Party is willing to tackle judicial corruption.

If the Mainstream Party is elected to run a State Government, we will first abolish the Court of Appeal. Courts of Appeal were set up by Labor Governments so that Labor-appointed judges could overrule decisions made by Liberal-appointed judges. We will revert to the system of having a right of appeal to a Full Court of three judges.

Secondly, we will take the administrative powers away from the courts and give these to tribunals. If courts make administrative decisions, these decisions can be appealed to the High Court. But if administrative decisions are made by tribunals, they cannot necessarily be appealed to the High Court. We will set up the following tribunals:

  • Bail and Sentencing Tribunal
  • Courts Administration Tribunal
  • Statutory Officers Disciplinary Tribunal

The Bail and Sentencing Tribunal will decide whether to release accused criminals on bail, will decide whether to release convicted criminals on parole, and will impose sentences on convicted criminals. The Courts Administration Tribunal will decide whether to accept cases, will decide whether to waive filing fees, will decide whether to require a litigant to provide a deposit, will make interim court orders, and will decide which judge gets to hear which case. The Statutory Officers Disciplinary Tribunal will inquire into misconduct by judges and decide whether to suspend or sack judges.

There will be a right of appeal from the decision of these tribunals to the Governor-in-Council. For example, if the government thinks a sentence is too lenient, they can impose a more severe sentence. If the corrupt judges of the High Court overturn a conviction, it will not necessarily result in the prisoner being released. The prisoner might even have his sentence increased.

Third, we will abolish the Legal Aid Commission, and instead provide every court with a “Counsel Assisting the Court”. This will be a barrister nominated by the accused or unrepresented litigant, who will make sure all aspects of the case and the relevant law are presented to the court. Legal aid currently provides a service of such a low standard that anyone would be better off representing themselves. Having said that, representing yourself in court is like removing your own appendix. By having a “Counsel Assisting the Court”, and by selecting this Counsel very carefully, an unrepresented litigant should be able to have fairly good legal representation.

If the Mainstream Party is elected to run the Australian Government, we will pass an Act of Parliament to increase the number of Judges on the High Court. The size of the High Court is set by an Act of Parliament, not by the Australian Constitution. Then we will appoint enough honest judges to the High Court to be able to outvote the corrupt judges. Having done that, we will sack just about every federal judge and prosecutor who was in office when we came to power. And then we will investigate the corrupt judges, build cases against them, confiscate their assets, and prosecute them.