Jul 11, 2017

Is Andrew Bolt right? Would 12 random Victorians be too biased to judge Pell’s fate?

Among many other things, Magna Carta enshrined the human right to trial by one’s peers. But is this 800-year-old relic still relevant in today's wi-fi-enabled world?

Michael Bradley — Managing partner at Marque Lawyers

Michael Bradley

Managing partner at Marque Lawyers

George Pell charged

Pity poor George Pell, the cardinal summoned home to face the Victorian criminal justice system on charges of having committed “historical” sexual assaults (peculiar word that, you never hear it used in connection with any other kind of crime). Friendless, apart from the Pope and the Roman Catholic Church, and the victim of a campaign of “relentless character assassination” (his words) by a baying media, with nobody to speak for him, apart from the opinion writers of News Corp and a former prime minister

As Andrew Bolt said, “what hope is there now of Pell getting a fair trial?”. It’s all enough to make one wish, like Bolt went on to do, for a more civil society, perhaps one in which people’s guilt or innocence of anti-social acts is not prejudged on the basis of what they are rather than what they’ve done.  

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21 thoughts on “Is Andrew Bolt right? Would 12 random Victorians be too biased to judge Pell’s fate?

  1. mikeb

    I’ve sat on a couple of juries and found it amazing how easily decisions are swayed by the skill of the prosecutor/defender. The judge (in my cases) tried to point the jury in the right direction but in one case we had a “hold-out” who could not be convinced. I suspect Pell will have no chance of a fair trial with a jury. A lot of people couldn’t care less if Pell is guilty or not as long as he is convicted and serves as a slap in the face to the Catholic Church.

  2. Wayne Robinson

    After reading ‘Cardinal’ by Louise Milligan it seems to me that George Pell is at most guilty of being a groper, an exhibitionist and a Catholic cardinal.
    A jury should be perfectly capable of determining a verdict of ‘guilty’ or ‘not guilty’, based on whatever evidence is presented.

  3. Terry Goulden

    After reading Bolt’s comments I am more than ever convinced that he is a walking, breathing definition of irony or maybe hypocrisy.

  4. klewso

    It’s a good thing for Pell he isn’t a progressive and/or a believer in Anthropogenic Climate Change?
    If he were he’d be up Shit Creek without a Blot for a paddle?

  5. bref

    I don’t know if he’s guilty or innocent of these particular crimes, but he’s certainly going have a fairer hearing than the victims who came before him or the tribunals he created. I have no doubt that priests, bishops and cardinals knew/know exactly who were/are the paedophiles in their midst. Surely they were/are breaking the law by protecting them and not notifying the authorities. No, this is not an honourable man, and this is not an honourable institution.

    1. leon knight

      Exactly Bref, sadly there is no way to convict him and his cronies of their real crimes – this public shame on him and the church is probably as good as it gets for all the shabbily treated victims….

  6. lykurgus

    The answers are…
    1) No
    2) No
    Prosecution AND defence have to pick the jury between them, do they not (from the dice roll that is the jury pool)? Or was that some other jurisdiction?
    If the “judge only” option existed in Victoria, we wouldn’t even be talking about this – the court would just offer the “no jury” option (for the defence to either take or not), and get on with it.

    And remember Robert Hughes, the “Hey Dad” guy? His case for a permanent stay on proceedings (on the grounds of a pitchfork-wielding press pack) would have been stronger than Pells… how did that work out for him?

    Pell spent the best part of his career doing everything in his power to prevent this day from ever coming… and now that it has come anyway, his groupies will raise hell AT LEAST until the gavel is dropped (and most likely beyond).
    If he doesn’t push for permanent stay (because of a book that’s already been pulled off the shelf), be VERY amazed.

  7. John Newton

    Two points.

    1. My ignorance of the law. I was interested thaat Pell was charged not by the DPP but by the police. How is that?

    2. If he ever sees a jury (there’s no certainty of that; his case is only at the committal stage and could be dismissed there). Does that mean after flying all the way here from rome he may be told to go home? How so? That would seem to me to be uncessesarily cruyl to both Pell and the alleged victims.

    1. John Newton

      Of course I mean unnecessarily cruel

    2. lykurgus

      It is police that file the charges… then the DPP gets the brief. But if the magistrate concludes during committal that the prosecution hasn’t got much of a chance, the DPP might still be willing to have a go (which would mean a trial still happens).
      That’s what a lot of the victims wanted… to see him get dragged into court (sorry; I don’t have numbers).
      If he somehow gets off entirely, he won’t be told to do anything; but he still won’t be showing his face here again.

  8. graybul

    I don’t mind if Bolt and eleven good employees of News Ltd make up the jury. Seems to me as employees of the major purveyor of media in the nation . . . historically, they have had more to say about Pell than anyone else thus far??
    Oh by the way. The more we post . . . the more Bolt establishes his claim, and the more his tricky little agenda gains credence?? Or, as Andrew says “what hope is there now of Pell getting a fair trial?”

  9. Will

    Bradley says, “I don’t mind defendants having the option of being tried by judge alone, and wouldn’t mind Pell having that option either, if Victoria decided to go the same way as other states have.”

    One for the legal eagles out there – Would it actually be possible for Victoria to alter the rules and permit a judge-only for a Pell trial (and if so, how)?

    1. lykurgus

      Courts basically operate under the rules that Parliament gives them… so it should just be a matter of putting a bill up during a sitting, to add the judge-only option. But it couldn’t be retrospective, so Pell would have to get an adjournment to invoke it.
      The single most common reason for a law not existing is that nobody thought it would need to.

  10. Itsarort

    “Juries often get it wrong.” I don’t think so. I’m pretty confident that juries most often get it right within the paradigm of our court system that they find themselves thrust into. It’s more likely the Media who get it wrong; masquerading in the extravagant disguise of their “opinion”.

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