Case Studies in Justice #
This topic area is dedicated to examining the role of the state in adjudicating polemic disputes when all other avenues appear to have failed. It encompasses multiple aspects of Justice and how it impacts on families.
Family courts could adopt the Hippocratic code of “do no harm”, lest the saying that “there is no family dispute so bad, that the intervention of the family court could not make it worse” applies to them.
Solon, (638 – 558) widely considered the founder of our Justice and democratic systems, believed the family to be the bedrock of any successful society. Occasionally Society may need to be called upon to intervene in inter or intra family disputes to resolve intractable issues in order to avoid families tearing themselves apart or causing inter generational feuds.
Solon laid the foundation of Athenian justice and democracy. He believed in the middle way, equity and straight justice. Social peace depended on reasonable laws for nobleman and commoner alike and the jurisdiction bound to them. The laws became known as Solonian due to his authority.
The largest number of his laws concerned family law which he believed to be the foundation of Athenian society; the permanence of the family. He preferred the middle way in resolving disputes to continue the existence of the family. Preventing violence and maintaining public order were stated purposes of law.
The case studies include various ones taken from recent Canadian and Australian court systems. Being born and raised in Canada, my formative and impressionable experiences make me feel inherently Canadian. At the age of 30, I migrated to Australia for the next 45 years. This gives me a vantage point of being an insider and Camusian outsider in both countries.
Arriving in Australia in 1972, another American recent arrival commented that “it’s like going back to the 1940’s, but it seems to work”. Canada at that time was riding high in international stakes because of the strong progressive governance of Lester B Pearson and Pierre Trudeau. Australia was emerging from a stultifying and stupefying culture of smug complacency. It was the election of a firebrand, Gough Whitlam, that dragged Australia “kicking and screaming” into the 20th Century.
So many of Australia’s reforms were appropriated from Canadian models.
The entire Topic Area of Justice is 15 years overdue. It is part of a procrastinated support service for my students studying a book by Geoffrey Robertson, The Justice Game, which records some of the landmark legal cases a young lawyer from Australia faced in his early days after graduating from Oxford in England from the early 1970’s to the mid 1990’s.
The book chronicles some major Human rights cases that challenged the entrenched mind set of an ancient legal institution. Dickens saying that the law is an ass - an idiot, preceded him by at least 200 years. It is the very remoteness and privilege of the courts that gives some a false sense of entitlement. Some have their heads so high up their own fundaments, they haven’t seen daylight in years. The only way to get them to extract cranium from sphincter is a swift kick up the back side
- to get real.
A second feature in this topic area deals with Child Sexual Assault. One of the many positive paradigm shifts of Australia’s Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse is the increased sensitivity around the treatment of victims (survivors) especially in our courts being subjected to painful interrogation.
Justice Peter McClellan has reset the system by assimilating past trauma into the national psyche, making it acceptable to listen to the victims and believe the hurt, anger and pain and not allow it to be re-enacted in courts to feather the nests of unscrupulous desperate depraved lawyers.
The adversarial system is well past its use-by date. It relies on cross-examination - not to get at the truth but to cast doubt. There is no such thing as absolute certainty. Aggressive and withering interrogation can wear down the most hardened victims. The ruse is one to instil fear; to gut and fillet victims in order to destroy their credibility.
Carol Stingel, who won a case of being pack-raped by Aboriginal leader, Geoff Clark, was subjected to four days of grueling demeaning and gut-wrenching verbal assault attempting to find cracks in her story. This left her psychologically devastated.
Evan Whitton tells of victims vomiting in the witness stand.
Brutal and ruthless skewering of fragile witnesses on the stand is unconscionable. Conscientious Court Systems should not tolerate it and definitely not reward thugs and bullies who employ it.
Amnesiac figures of high authority or hardened criminals may be fair game.
We, the people, must ensure that that endemic culture is not allowed to raise its ugly head again.
This site is an interactive one and the author appreciates all feedback on errors of fact or perception; negative or positive. Contact details above.
The entire Topic Area of Justice was 15 years overdue. It is part of a procrastinated support service for my students studying a book by Geoffrey Robertson, The Justice Game, which records some of the landmark legal cases a young lawyer from Australia faced in his early days after graduating from Oxford in England from the early 1970’s to the mid 1990’s. The book chronicles some major Human rights cases that challenged the entrenched mind set of an ancient legal institution.
Chief Justice Beverley McLachlin # Few figures in the pantheon of the Canadian judges’ trade union are more saintly than Beverley McLauchlin - brilliance at the law, steadfast vocal adherence to legal values, perhaps not quite so keen on Justice, rising to dizzying heights in the service of the nation. My first introduction to former Supreme Court of Canada Chief Justice Beverley McLachlin were her comments at the Canadian Bar Association (CBA) annual meeting in Saskatoon in Aug 18, 2013.
Canadian Judicial Council # Disclaimer: Below you will find a series of emails, sent to the Canadian government over a period of some seven years, asserting my civil right for lawfully entitled information, regarding a 2014 formal complaint to the Canadian Judicial Council. (File: 14-0393), concerning apparent failings of the judiciary. Defying a statutory Act of the Canadian Parliament, it has never received a meaningful response. I update it at will or whenever the spirit moves me.
Canadian Protests against Covid # The February, 2022 protests in Ottawa, and across Canada could be just another indicator of people losing faith, confidence and trust in the social legitimacy and trust of all public institutions — including courts, fuelled by a culture of impunity. While we have every right and duty to hold all power to account when we enter dangerous regressive eras, it is crucial how we do it.
Manitoba’s Justice System # The world is out of joint and something is rotten in Manitoba’s insular Justice System and cursed spite, Canadian officials and politicians have wantonly failed in their responsibility to put it right. Serious, endemic, cultural flaws appear irrefutable and in urgent need of radical reform. Manitoban’s are entitled to higher standards of Justice. But then in a democracy, you only get the government and Justice system you deserve.
Schizophrenia and Aunt Anne Ogilvie - a life only one third lived # It would be a real challenge to overstate the calamitous impact of the death of our maternal grandfather, William Heinrichs, who died in a tragic car accident on July 09, 1938, driving from Manitoba, through Cass Lake, Minnesota to see Niagara Falls and the famous Dionne Quints. He was 67. “History is made up of episodes, and unless we get inside those episodes, we cannot get inside History at all”.
Bob Carr’s Non Response to Institutional Sexual Abuse # Former leaders frequently suffer from ADD - attention deprivation disorder. Politicians have good reason to attempt to justify their legacies, considering the amount of compromises they make to gain and maintain power. As Junot Diaz noted: “Eventually the past finds you. As for so many in positions of power, the moment to reckon with the consequences of past behaviour eventually arrives”.
Canada and Australia share significant similarities in history and governance. Both are stridently egalitarian treasuring their freedoms and human rights. Both were colonial outposts. Both have strip ribbon settlements. Both depend on extractive industries to thrive economically. Both made significant contributions to England’s wars maintaining her colonial empire. General Haig, writing to his wife about us colonials, describes the Australians as: “brave and daring soldiers, but uncouth, dirty, undisciplined, disrespectful to the officers and unruly.
Child Abuse Commission # Justice Peter McClellan deserves to be the Australian of the Year for his relentless pursuit of prestigious leaders under scrutiny by the Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse. He tread where angels fear to tread. McClellan proved to be a chair intolerant of disingenuity, and made it clear that status could not buy immunity. He challenged pillars of the community and senior church figures, including Arch-bishop George Pell, Australia’s most senior Catholic and third in line in the world,over claims they did not know abuse was occurring.
An open letter to the current Canadian Minister of Justice # Re: **CJC File: 14-0393** This is a compilation of various letters written to incoming Federal and Provincial Justice and Prime Ministers over the past six years regarding a formal complaint made to the Canadian Judicial Council. The fact that the complaint has never received a genuine, meaningful response is in direct defiance of a statute of the Canadian Parliament.
Geoffrey Rush vs. The Daily Telegraph # Geoffrey Rush, a world renown actor, won a defamation case against the Murdoch rag, The Daily Telegraph for alleging inappropriate sexual behavior in a production of King Lear. Using large bold sensationalist headlines “King Leer”, obviously to evoke tantalizing instances of salacious titillation and arouse prurient curiosity merely to increase sales, was in my view totally irresponsible – but what do you expect from a Murdoch tabloid – the Lord of the gutter press?
Exhibit 1: Heinrichs of Halbstadt # A well researched and diligently recorded family history book tracing the real stories, shared reality and actual facts of our family’s second generation in Canada became the central exhibit in contesting a Schizophrenic Aunt’s Will. The book’s sharp observations, careful evaluations and meticulous detailings are an invaluable primary source of our family’s narratives. Surprisingly, none of its sedulous, rigorous and authoritative research played any part in a Manitoba Queen’s Court’s discoveries, deliberations or dubious determinations of a contested Will.
Judicial Corruption # Corruption is not only immoral, but is a serious crime. It is often organized, betrays people and democracies. UN Secretary-General António Guterres Broadly defined, corruption is the abuse of entrusted power for any ulterior reason. It can be classified as grand, petty or political, depending on its motivation. It becomes glaringly obvious when courts flagrantly flout community expected norms of a reliable and trusted justice system; instead gaming a flawed and toxic legal system by arbitrary decision making.
Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse # Then and Now Before 2012 Sexual abuse of children and young adolescents by Catholic priests has been documented since at least the medieval era, when it was well known by the public and other clergy to be commonplace. Bishops were not as preoccupied with secrecy as they are today, so it was openly discussed. At the third Lateran council of 1138 CE, it was decided that clerics who engaged in pederasty or sodomy were to be dismissed from the clerical state or else confined to monasteries to do penance, but in practice, perpetrators were rarely punished.
Robust Interrogation # Lawyers are trained in the arts of linguistic combat; persuasion – casuistry, sophistry and eristic logic, to win at all costs. Specious and spurious arguments trump truth and reality. Manipulation of evidence can lead to perception management. "—You and I both do the same thing, he would chide me, “sleight of hand - making things appear to be what they’re not”. Dershowitz, Alan M. US defence lawyer, writing of his son, a professional magician, 1991.
Canadian Judicial Council Submission # This is a collation of three tranches of submissions sent to the CJC in 2014. The fact that the CJC has never responded to it in a meaningful way, is in contravention of an explicit Statutory Act of the Canadian Parliament. In my opinion this is a serious breach of the CJC’s legal duty and a violation of my sovereign rights as a Canadian citizen and taxpayer.
Excerpts: Heinrichs of Halbstadt # While the past needs to be re-examined and revisionist historians often shed new perspectives on events, we need to inform our assumptions on reliable sources and the stature of authority, remaining wary of motive, agenda and insidious intent. Events should be discussed, debated, re-evaluated and re-assessed, but established facts should never be denied. Respectable and responsible institutions base their conclusions on grounded evidence, do not “guess the facts” rather forensically investigate all contested claims and assertions by testing conflicting claims to validate their findings.