CARR Title

CONFLICT OF INTEREST

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CRIMINAL COURT JUDGES CANNOT BE UNBIASED

Imagine that you go to a boxing match and the boxers are introduced by the ring announcer:

Imagine the howls of outrage and screams that would emanate from an enraged audience. Of course such a match would never proceed or even be arranged, because of the obvious conflict of interest of the referee. The same goes for any contest where total impartiality must be guaranteed. It would be inconceivable to have a football game refereed by an umpire who was an employee of one of the team sponsors. It would be outrageous if anybody who could influence the outcome of any activity had any relationship with a party who participated in that activity.

None of the above examples would ever be countenanced in a million years, however we, the people, are confronted with one of the most blatant conflicts of interest imaginable - magistrates and judges hearing criminal cases.

In the civil jurisdiction, judges that have a conflict of interest, or are even merely perceived to have a conflict of interest in the matter before them, are required to recuse themselves and not hear the matter. Here is a link to the Guide To Judicial Conduct from the Australasian Institute of Judicial Administration.

Chapter 3 clearly shows that judges are not permitted to have any perceivable conflict of interest. So why the hell is there a clear conflict of interest with magistrates and judges presiding over criminal cases? Think about it.

HERE IS DEFINITE CONFLICT OF INTEREST

Magistrates and judges are employed by and paid by the very same state government that is prosecuting people for traffic offences that are in the criminal jurisdiction. Those magistrates and judges clearly have a conflict of interest and there is no denying it.

Those magistrates and judges may swear on a stack of bibles that they are completely impartial - and Fred Slugger the referee who is the twin brother of Steve Slugger, one of the boxers in the example above, can also swear on a stack of bibles that he is completely impartial. But there is a clear perception of a conflict of interest in both examples.

I have written to the NSW Attorney General and demanded some answers about this, but as expected, I received a load of disingenuous tripe and something about magistrates and judges being totally independent because they cannot be sacked, except for gross misconduct. Read the following and get a laugh out of it - but it really is a serious matter.

A CARR FAIRY TALE

Here is a mythical conversation between a mythical magistrate and a mythical chief magistrate. Make of it whatever you will.

CARR hopes that you enjoyed this little story. Do you think that things like that happen in the real world? Heaven forbid.

IT REALLY WORKS LIKE THIS

Actually, this is exactly what happens to public servants, including magistrates and judges who don't toe the line. They can't be fired, but they can be transferred to some shitty place where they will spend the rest of their miserable lives sharpening pencils, linking and unlinking paper clips, filling in forms in quadruplicate and staring out the window and watching goannas running around. Of course if they don't like it, they are free to resign, which will be exactly the outcome that is desired by their bosses - making a space for somebody who can be more easily manipulated by those bosses.

So what can we do about this very unfair situation in regard to the conflict of interest of magistrates and judges? Apart from bringing it to the attention of all politicians and media and screaming about it to everybody, we have to confront those magistrates in their own courts and embarrass them in the hope that they will turn tail and run. Here's a sample of some repartee between a defendant and a magistrate that might be useful.

I cannot imagine that a magistrate would actually flee the court over something like conflict of interest, however it is a very valid issue. The point is that there really is a clear conflict of interest, when somebody who has the job of adjudicating a legal matter is an employee of one of the involved parties. So something needs to be done about it. Once people get the idea that their court appearances to fight traffic infringements are being judged by people who are employed by the same government that is trying to penalise them, I would hope that there would be a massive outpouring of anger and outrage.