George Pell has been aquitted

Discussion in 'Living Room' started by Peter_Tersteeg, 7th Apr, 2020.

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  1. Peter_Tersteeg

    Peter_Tersteeg Well-Known Member Business Member

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    This morning the High Court of Australia made the unanimous decision to overturn the convictions of child sex offences.

    https://www.theage.com.au/national/...urt-overturns-conviction-20200407-p54hqe.html

    I appreciate that this is a very polarising case. I have no idea of his actual guilt or innocence, but I'm actually quite happy with this outcome within the Australian legal system. I believe very strongly that:
    * A person is innocent until proven guilty.
    * Guilt must be proven beyond any reasonable doubt.

    Overall I think that it's incredibly difficult to prove guilt beyond reasonable doubt when the case predominantly rests on the testimony of a single individual. The case probably shouldn't have gotten this far. There's already statements suggesting there may be an investigation into Victoria's criminal justice system.

    "Reasonable doubt", does mean that some guilty people will get away with some very serious crimes and perhaps this is the case here, I don't know. I think it's important to uphold this measurement beyond everything else however. Without it, our society and freedoms face a very slippery downward slope where justice is served based on the loudest voice rather than actual evidence.

    This may be a very unpopular decision, but justice is not a popularity contest. This may be a very sad day for child sex abuse victims, but overall I think this is a good day for the Australian justice system.
     
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  2. D.T.

    D.T. Specialist Property Manager Business Member

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    how is its failure good?
     
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  3. The Gambler

    The Gambler Well-Known Member

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    Hahahahahahahahaha.

    Not surprising though.

    One system for the elite and another system for the rest of us. Bill Cosby should have hired this bloke's legal team!
     
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  4. SatayKing

    SatayKing Well-Known Member

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    Hmm,

    Browsing austlii.com.au would indicate the High Court is accessible to a wider demographic then that.
     
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  5. Peter_Tersteeg

    Peter_Tersteeg Well-Known Member Business Member

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    They've recognised that there was a failure. Today that has been corrected.
     
    Last edited: 7th Apr, 2020
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  6. Rex

    Rex Well-Known Member

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    Agreed - regardless of what we think of Pell and that he may actually have committed the alleged crimes, it was essentially the victim's word against his. With no supporting evidence, no other witnesses and no evidence of history/tendency it was actually a bit of an unlikely story, and you could not therefore conclude with any degree of certainty that the offences occurred.

    This is uncomfortable in that the justice system is essentially not believing a purported victim, but on the other hand we are in a scary place if the above is not considered reasonable doubt. It is still a worse injustice for innocent people to be convicted than for guilty people to go free.

    I think (I say with zero legal training) that the solution for historic child sex offence cases like this is (those hinging on he-said she-said evidence) is for tendency evidence to be more easily admissible. I understand it's common for child sex offenders to have multiple victims over the course of their life, so evidence that establishes a pattern of behaviour seems like a more robust and reliable way to provide supporting evidence to a witnesses account.
     
  7. Terry_w

    Terry_w Lawyer, Tax Adviser and Mortgage broker in Sydney Business Plus Member

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    There has to have been a reasonable doubt.
     
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  8. Simon Hampel

    Simon Hampel Founder Staff Member

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    There will be dozens of civil suits filed shortly. This isn't over by a long shot.
     
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  9. jaydee

    jaydee Well-Known Member

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    The legal system is a joke, but I guess we are stuck with it.

    A jury of his peers found him guilty (which is extremely difficult to achieve*), then their decision can be overruled by the opinions of some "self appointed legal judges".

    Why do we even have juries given they can be overruled?

    (*I have served on a jury during a murder case and seen first-hand how difficult it is to get a conviction regardless of how compelling the evidence may be.)
     
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  10. Terry_w

    Terry_w Lawyer, Tax Adviser and Mortgage broker in Sydney Business Plus Member

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    Judges are not self appointed and juries can misinterpret the law
     
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  11. Francesco

    Francesco Well-Known Member

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    The case produced a situation of severely traumatised individuals alleging things happened many years in childhood. This plus the dubious situation of cavalier tryst in ceremonial settings always seem far out. The jury discounted multiple witness testimonies in favour of essentially one traumatised individual. All the surrounding unhappy voices appear mob-like whether the judgement go the way to further their agendas or not. Altogether, justice was appearing to be subservient to mob voices. Sad situation IMO, regardless where truth lies.
     
  12. jaydee

    jaydee Well-Known Member

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    Okay, Judges don't appoint themselves, but it is a closed shop and they are appointed by other legals within their own profession. As for juries, they are not directed to interpret the law (htf could they do that?), they are directed to base a decision on the evidence put before them.

    So back to my point, juries obviously have no purpose as they can be overruled by people who know or who are supposed more 'learn-ed' than they.
     
  13. Terry_w

    Terry_w Lawyer, Tax Adviser and Mortgage broker in Sydney Business Plus Member

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    I think there was more to it than that. But this is not my area and I don't know much about the jury system and haven't read this judgement on this case
     
  14. shorty

    shorty Well-Known Member

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    High court justices are appointed by the Governor General on advice from the Cabinet.

    Having said that, this judgement raises questions about any case involving only witness testimony and I am personally concerned by the outcome.
     
  15. James Bond

    James Bond Well-Known Member

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    For months I have been calling this conviction as unsafe. I've always stated alongside that statement that doesn't mean he wasn't involved in paedophilia in some way, even if only through ignoring evidence of perpetration by others.
     
  16. spludgey

    spludgey Well-Known Member

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    While I don't know for certain whether he raped those boys (let's not use language that makes it sound like a lesser crime), I very much suspect that he did. It would also make sense why he protected other paedophile rapists then, which I don't think can be refuted.

    Horrible person, his victims and the victims of those he protected, deserve better.
     
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  17. thatbum

    thatbum Well-Known Member

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    The decision basically says that the uncontested evidence at trial basically meant that any reasonable jury must have had reasonable doubt.

    Juries can make findings of fact, but it becomes appealable when the their findings are not supported by the evidence.

    Do you have an issue with that? Are you saying the jury got the right and the entire full bench of the High Court got it wrong?
     
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  18. jaydee

    jaydee Well-Known Member

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    Yes, I have a big issue with that. But it is what is is and a mere mortal like me isn't going to get the system changed.

    The jury heard all the facts that were presented (remembering many were not presented) and on the basis of that, they concluded he was guilty. So did the Appeals judges.

    But, then seven justices with a different opinion can then come in and say, nah .......the jury got it wrong! So then all over red rover, end of story, no more discussion, we know best.

    I have no idea whether he is guilty or not. Only he, his accusers and his maker know that, but 12 independent persons convicted him based on the evidence presented.

    Regardless of the George Pell findings, can any of you legal persons (including thatbum) tell me why we use juries if their findings mean nothing.
     
  19. MWI

    MWI Well-Known Member

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    because:
    * A person is innocent until proven guilty.
    * Guilt must be proven beyond any reasonable doubt.
    that did not occur!
    No one said jury findings means nothing, but the case should not proceed from the start.
    That's how I understand it (Jury is to judge, layers are to prepare a case and they did not follow the right process from the start).
     
  20. thatbum

    thatbum Well-Known Member

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    They don't mean nothing. But they have to make reasonable findings based on the evidence when they decide to convict.

    Sometimes the evidence at trial plays out in a way where the judge actually has to direct the jury that they must make a finding of acquittal. Looks like this is what should have happened at first instance.
     
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