Tasmania – where The Law wears protection

The latest example of Tasmania’s legal system protecting itself from scrutiny is the Legal Profession Board of Tasmania dismissing a complaint against a practicing lawyer by mischaracterising the complaint. It follows the pattern of self-serving self protection exhibited throughout the State’s legal world, as demonstrated in the Sue Neill-Fraser case, according to ANDREW L. URBAN. 

Before the Legal Profession Board of Tasmania dismissed a valid complaint of unprofessional conduct against a practicing lawyer at the March 2021 appeal, Tasmania’s Integrity Commission dismissed our complaint against Assistant Police Commissioner RC for a public statement that claimed – incorrectly – that key witness Meaghan Vass had ‘recanted’ to police her evidence as given on 60 Minutes the day before.

Tasmania’s Attorney General, claiming the matter was before the court – unlike the Assistant Police Commissioner – declined to comment. Nothing was done about the false statement, which was reported in the press.

Before the Integrity Commission’s deflection of our complaint, Tasmania’s Court of Criminal Appeal in 2011 dismissed all grounds claimed by Sue Neill-Fraser against her conviction for the murder of her partner Bob Chappell – in terms challenged by several legal and lay observers. Just one – telling – example:

There was no proof – nor was any evidence led as to the fact – that latex gloves were used to clean up the saloon after the murder that Neill-Fraser was accused of committing; counsel for the Crown falsely linked Neill-Fraser to both the cleaning up, and the gloves.

The claim by the Court of Criminal Appeal that the statement by the Crown in relation to cleaning up, and the appellant’s DNA being on the gloves, was “insignificant” does not accord with the facts that this was the only DNA evidence in the trial linking the appellant to the crime of which she was accused … and it was wrong – and it was put before the jury at virtually the last possible moment.

The CCA claimed that (anyway) there was an abundance of evidence against Neill-Fraser – which no legal observer could find.

Tasmania’s Supreme Court in 2010 protected the Crown’s unlawful case against Neill-Fraser, without challenging it, impermissibly adding its own voice to the prosecutor’s impermissible speculation.

As Bibi Sangha and Bob Moles point out, ” … the appeal court recognised that the trial judge had stated, ‘there was no direct evidence that the appellant killed the deceased’. It also observed that there was ‘no direct evidence of the circumstances of the homicide.’ Despite this: The judge thought it quite likely that the appellant hit the deceased on the head with a heavy wrench from behind, but concluded that the evidence did not enable the making of a detailed finding as to the manner of attack.”

The ‘quite likely’ scenario was not just based upon an insufficiency of evidence, but upon a total absence of it as the judge has acknowledged, and was clearly contrary to the most basic rule of law principles.

As the judge explained in his earlier remarks to the jury ‘basing your verdict on the evidence means that you mustn’t use guesswork or speculation in arriving at your verdict.’ This is precisely what the judge himself has done.”

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16 Responses to Tasmania – where The Law wears protection

  1. Geraldine Allan says:

    Seems to me quality subject matter for a great podcast. Any takers?

  2. owen allen says:

    Excellent work Andrew, you are to be commended.
    You are in the history books, and I know that is not your reason or purpose.
    I hope I have the courage you display when the time come for me to give evidence.
    Bring on the Royal Commission Tasmania.

  3. David Smith says:

    This has gone passed the ridiculous – it is Criminal Corrupt and shows just how the Bully Boys in Power can get away with anything – This is Blatant Violence against Women – Where are all the Women’s Groups – Police can lock up any Innocent Person and then just ignore Direct Evidence and the Law. Everyone you ask for Help runs and hides – There needs to be many regular Demonstrations until the Corrupt Police and Judicial System are taken to task – and held accountable for their Dishonest and Corrupt Activities. Corruption in Tasmanian Police is out of Control. Then I saw where some of these People involved have received Honours for their Dangerous Practices, Get out on the Streets and Show your support to stamp out Violence against Women by the Bully Boys In the Tasmania Police and Government.

    • owen allen says:

      It’s over David. The stitching up has begun. It is done and dusted, as they say.
      It is just procedure now; or volunteers to clean up the mess.

  4. owen allen says:

    Dare I say it. The USA has the 2nd Amendment.
    Australia has gun control.
    America has history of Volunteers going Offshore in times of need.
    Lest We Forget.
    The Lafayette Escadrille in France WW1 and the Flying Tigers in China pre WW2.
    History Talks.

  5. owen allen says:

    Again thanks Andrew, and I thank GOD the TRUTH about Tasmania is coming out.
    It is called tightknit and how lovely is that.
    We keep a momentum going, more people not afraid to comment, ( I sincerely thank everyone that has so far,) it has to happen, we cannot stop now; this is a now or never situation. I call Cooee, for volunteers to contribute to a Federal Royal Commission Tasmania.
    This will be not just (justice) for Tasmanians, but all Australians and tourists.

  6. Kevin Fitzgerald says:

    Thank you for your tireless dedication Andrew

  7. Maris Valentine says:

    I hate to be defeatist, but it is all very depressing – especially for those personally affected by bad judgements. I don’t know if it is possible to enlist the aid of sympathetic journalists, but I think these bad judges need some valid criticisms in the media. Maybe when their reputations get a bit of a bump they might start to improve their manners and their judgements.

    • Andy says:

      Maris, it is totally depressing and draining…. But in saying that its a situation im not willing to give up on.

  8. Noeline Durovic says:

    Dear Andrew, Thank you; For your excellent summary of Tasmanian Law and how ‘Protection of there own in deceit is too common plus for the good of our Society! Andrew you publish for us to understand as you engage us in the scrutinisation of the Tasmanian so called Justice ineptitude. Of the dishonest over load of the reality of what must be seem as the perverting of justice. Where it is known too many of the Legal Fraternity in Tasmania blustering Law Officers are shamefully even under oath employed to represent us as law officers proceed in a stench of foulness! How can we not oppose not only they’re blatant deceitful deviation from this path as they unmercifully destroy lives? Or there claims of outright untruths to cover illegalities known to them? ‘Without a Commission of Enquiry’ A Commission of Enquiry which must not be formed and led by the legal fraternity out of Tasmania. As of course we would not wish for any more deflecting and hiding the blatant dishonesty of those presently tangling and breaking the law! .. For that would be letting “Tasmanian Devils loose in with some poor old chooks” worse tham foxes in a hen house!

  9. Lisbeth Eastoe says:

    Why would judges not act with this sort of contempt when it takes an entire sitting of Parliament and agreement of two-thirds of sitting members to get rid of a judge, by a Parliament heavily comprised of lawyers? Judges are in a privileged position and lose sense of the fact they are public servants who ought be subjected to a Code of Conduct.

    I also have viewed and heard arrogant and biased behaviour from Tasmanian Federal court judges. It is only when mainland Federal judges in Appeals against cases heard in Tasmania, are made aware of such behaviour that their Tasmanian juniors are chastised for their appalling behaviour and lack of intelligence.

    New South Wales judges can have their decisions overturned by a simple review committee. We have no such system of safeguards here as a recourse to correct unsound judgements or comment of judges. As a result we have bottom of the barrel judgements by ordinary minds not capable of higher thought or ethical standards.

    • Rosemary says:

      You make many excellent points in your post above, Lisbeth. Begs the question, why in Tasmania the privileged judges/state govt. are so against any form of scrutiny or accountability for wrongful judgements? It may have been lucky on the Federal circuit to have had oversight on a Tasmanian judgement where all too often the mainland Fed circuit judges just rubber stamp the unsound judgements.

  10. SH says:

    Do we wake up from this strange dystopian nightmare soon?
    I’m sure SNF (& others), must feel as though in a never ending, Dr Who-type of looooong episode, which has taken over her (& her family’s) lives.
    Similar to Barbara Etter, & Jeff Thompson…
    Why is it that, for all the arguments that incredible legal minds (off shore & around the world) have brought to attention when they’ve read this travesty of a case, pointing out even just a few of the many flaws & inconsistencies & comment on how very wrong this all has been, that the ‘bully boys’ of ‘Legal Tasmania’ are not brought to heel? Aren’t they under a Federal jurisdiction of some sort – ie keeping up with the rest of the Western World?
    Be afraid ‘normal’ Tasmanians, be very afraid! This could happen to you too!!

  11. Monique says:

    Thank you Andrew for your article on the legal system protecting itself from scrutiny. I just say I have unfortunately witnessed some concerning behaviours by Judges. It’s almost like they don’t have a filter and have the audacity to say what they want, behave with utter rudeness and contempt to the lawyers before them. In some instances their behaviour is quite simply like spoilt bratty people.

    One Judge in WA (2013) announced at a hearing, “What have I done today to wake up and have to preside over this matter?” I mean, hello? We pay your salary. You are “our” public servant!! This is not your private enterprise. You are employed by “us”. How dare you speak with such rudeness. This is your job if you don’t like it go find another. Unfortunately a job for life does not help in the scrutiny of their conduct and work.

    I have also witnessed poor conduct by Judges in pre-trial conferences. Rude. Speaking to lawyers in dismissive put-down language and tone. Then the lawyers grovelling to their “Lordships” to win a point or press on a matter. Some of the behaviours I have witnessed almost bare similarities to coercive control, which potentially may be enshrined in our legal system at some stage. How are these over-bearing controlling people going to understand this matter!!

    I have even witnessed a Judge who seemed to favour one lawyer over another. Even though the lawyers were on the same defence team. This particular Judge seemed to enjoy the style of the older lawyer and you could see his whole demeanour change including his body language when the older gentleman rose to his feet to speak. For goodness sakes this is not a social get together!! Behave. Be professional, refined, kind and above all neutral.

    I believe there should be more scrutiny over the conduct of Judges and how that impacts the work of those before them and potentially outcomes. Most workplaces have best practice and ongoing personal development. Do our courts offer this?

    • Tom Cairns says:

      A thank-you to both SH and Monique for such clear and incisive comment. Also to Andrew for his apparently endless stamina and persistence.
      It makes you wonder how, when there is so much truth in presentation from ordinary people, these appointed paragons of justice can err so badly. Are they bored with playing God? Are they cynical? Is it the fact that they live in a world of lies and manipulation so much that they get confused and go off the rails? Or is it that they see the whole process as just another game of ‘footy’ in which winning is the only moral?
      My own experience with legal practitioners is one of disgust. They collude and connive from both sides of the divide. I have been in their offices when they are talking on the phone to their opposite number about a case and was horrified at the level of ‘negotiation’ that was going on: “How much does your client expect to get?” The greatest worry is that the judiciary are elected from that same clique.
      But if you want to get into real difficulties with the legal profession then refuse to pay one of their bills because they did not follow your instructions. Even though you are perfectly within your rights you will never succeed again to get those rights. To say they will close ranks is to use a euphemism. Some may go as far as to mention the name of the offended lawyer in your presence. It is called ‘gloating’.
      It has gone into darkness and may have been there since the beginning. If everyday lawyers are so sinister then why should the guys on the bench not be the same?
      Hang in there Sue, your real crime is innocence and decency. These people do not know how to handle such things.

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