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Debacle after Bruce Lehrmann charges dropped

Bruce Lehrmann, the former parliamentary political staffer who was accused of raping a colleague named Brittany Higgins at Parliament House has had all charges dropped again him.

This occurred after the trial had to be postponed because Lisa Wilkinson gave a speech at The Logie Awards, and when the trial finally took place, the jury had to be discharged because of juror misconduct.


It has since been revealed that the most senior police officer on the Brittany Higgins case, ACT Police Manager of Criminal Investigations, Detective Superintendent Scott Moller believed there was insufficient evidence to prosecute Bruce Lehrmann but could not stop the ACT Director of Public Prosecutions from proceeding because “there is too much political interference”.

Lehrmann is reportedly contemplating civil action for alleged defamation and unfair dismissal after the charges were dropped, including against the ABC.

Sydney defamation specialist Mark O’Brien is working with Lehrmann in consideration of legal action. Furthermore, a letter to the trial judge from Channel 10 boss Beverley McGarvey, obtained by The Australian, reveals Wilkinson disputes claims by DPP Director Shane Drumgold SC that he had warned her that her planned Logies speech could cause a substantial delay in the trial.

Full story:

Sterling Law client acquitted of two counts of contravention of Protection Order

Today, after a marathon trial that ran a total of 6 days spanning over 6 months, including two dates that fell over due to a lack of interpreters and a delivery of judgment, we triumphed at our local Courthouse, the Richlands Magistrates Court.

The facts

Our client had been charged with two counts of contravention of Protection Order. It was alleged that he had driven past his ex-wife’s home on two separate dates stopping on the way to drop of the kids (count 1) and to stare (count 2).

It was noncontroversial that our client had had a temporary protection order that prohibited him from approaching within 100m of his ex-wife’s home and that he was in Court when that Order was made. The central issue for each count was whether he contravened the Protection Order as alleged.

For Count 1, the only material witness was the complainant, the ex-wife. For Count 2, the ex-wife and the new husband both gave evidence that our client was outside their home, and the new husband had taken a photograph of our client’s vehicle parked two doors down from her home.

We called two witnesses that were intended to provide our client with an alibi for count 2. The first said that our client was at his home on the date in question, but unexpectantly then told the Court that he was counselling our client about his grievances towards the ex-wife that day and our client had left his home at around half an hour before the count 2 was said to have occurred. Things were by that stage looking very grim for the defence. Magistrate Aaron Simpson was incredulous, and asked us whether our next witness would be similarly disastrous for our client’s case.

The second defence witness gave evidence that he was driving our client’s car that day, as his own car had broken down, and that he had driven in front of the ex-wife’s home to visit his friend two doors down. Despite being challenged, his evidence was unshaken in cross-examination.

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When is a Judge disqualified for bias?

A decision-maker being impartial is one of the core requirements of natural justice.

In the 19th century, Lord Campbell in Dimes [1852] EngR 789 said that “no man is to be a judge in his own cause”.

As a majority of the High Court noted in Ebner v The Official Trustee in Bankruptcy [2000] HCA 63:

“Fundamental to the common law system of adversarial trial is that it is conducted by an independent and impartial tribunal. Perhaps the deepest historical roots of this principle can be traced to Magna Carta (with its declaration that right and justice shall not be sold)”.

Legal meaning of biased

Bias in the law is a decision-maker making a decision because of factors other than the merits of the case, rather than different treatment of the parties.

Therefore, the fact that a decision-maker disbelieves, or is critical of, a party or a witness does not, of itself, indicate bias: Ramadan v New South Wales Insurance Ministerial Corporation, unreported, New South Wales Court of Appeal, 7 April 1995 (“Ramadan“) at 3 per Kirby P, at 11 per Rolfe AJA. Furthermore, it is permissible for decision-makers to make known their preliminary views for the purpose of ventilating issues. Even where preliminary views are strongly held, there will be actual bias only if they are incapable of being altered.  Also, it is not always sufficient to show that a decision-maker has displayed irritation or impatience or has even expressed sarcasm, and that whether such matters show actual bias remains a question of fact: see Galea v Galea (1990) 19 NSWLR 263 at 279 per Kirby ACJ.

In Reg. v. Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Commission; Ex parte Angliss Group (1969) 122 CLR 546, it was said that:

“requirements of natural justice are not infringed by a mere lack of nicety but only when it is firmly established that a suspicion may reasonably be engendered in the minds of those who come before the tribunal or in the minds of the public that the tribunal or a member or members of it may not bring to the resolution of the questions arising before the tribunal fair and unprejudiced minds. Such a mind is not necessarily a mind which has not given thought to the subject matter or one which, having thought about it, has not formed any views or inclination of mind upon or with respect to it.”

Full story: https://sterlinglawqld.com/when-is-a-judge-disqualified-for-bias/

Bruce Lehrmann’s rape trial jury discharged

The jury of Bruce Lehrmann’s trial for the alleged rape of former Liberal staffer Brittany Higgins has been discharged after a juror was found to have conducted their own research and brought a research paper on sexual assaults into the jury room.

The juror had brought in a research paper on sexual assault, which attempted to quantify the number of false complaints and interrogate the reasons for making false complaints. The use of the research paper was contrary to at least 17 directions given by the trial judge for the jurors not to conduct their own research or enquiries.

Jurors when sworn in promise to base their verdicts on the evidence in the trial, not extraneous material that may be controversial and which in any event has not been tested.

Full story:

Chief Justice prohibits Graeme Page KC from practicing as a barrister — Sterling Law QLD

Former barrister Graeme Page’s career may have ended today after the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Queensland ordered an injunction restraining him from engaging in legal practice. The Legal Services Commission had brought an application in the Supreme Court just last Friday. A person from the Legal Services Commission this afternoon confirmed to…

Chief Justice prohibits Graeme Page KC from practicing as a barrister — Sterling Law QLD

The case law of lawyers bills in England, India, Australia, Singapore and Hong Kong

For a very long time in Commonwealth legal systems, the legal profession has been regulated for the benefit of clients of lawyers and the public at large. Among other things, there has been a recognised public interest in protecting those liable to pay legal fees from overcharging by lawyers. One of those protections is and has been the legal requirement for a bill to be provided so that the client can seek advice on the fees and charges.

As a result, one of the many modern obligations that lawyers in English legal systems have to comply with in the course of legal practice is to provide clients and any other persons liable for their fees with proper bills before such persons can be liable for or sued for such fees.

Full story: https://sterlinglawqld.com/the-case-law-of-lawyers-bills-in-england-india-australia-singapore-and-hong-kong/

Further revelations of Public Trustee of Queensland’s gouging of estates

The Public Trustee of Queensland is a public body charged with managing the finances of some of the most vulnerable members of the community, including those lacking capacity and prisoners.

The ABC has now again reported on the Public Trustee, this time in relation to its mismanagement and fee gouging of estates.

Cora Whitfort appointed the Public Trustee as executor of her estate when she made her will back in 2011.  She passed away six years later in 2017.

It took two years  and cost the estate more than $20,000 for the Public Trustee to obtain probate.

Read more: https://sterlinglawqld.com/further-revelations-of-public-trustee-of-queenslands-gouging-of-estates/

Christian Porter loses appeal from restraint on Sue Chrysanthou SC

Former Attorney General Christian Porter has lost his appeal of a restraint against Defamation specialist Sue Chrysanthou SC representing him in his claim against the ABC.

Justice Thawley had ruled that there was a potential conflict of interest and the integrity of the judicial process and the due administration of justice required Ms Chrysanthou to be restrained. Furthermore, whilst Ms Chrysanthou had given evidence she did not recall any confidential information and that she no longer had emails received in connection with the meeting, Justice Thawley held that:

“However recollections are liable to being revived and there is nevertheless a risk of subconscious use of confidential information”

Full story: https://sterlinglawqld.com/christian-porter-loses-appeal-from-restraint-on-sue-chrysanthou-sc/

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