On 21 May 2012 the Victorian Government commenced an inquiry into the absence of professional standards in the Australian (including Victorian) legal profession, and at the broad intersection of the legal profession with the upper benches of all three branches of State and Federal government (benches that these days look like little more than an exclusive lawyers club).
This unprecedented and history making trial resumes at 10.00 am on Friday 6 July 2012 and will be held at 55 King Street, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia.
LAWYEROCRACY ON TRIAL – THE TRIAL
Of course turning the spotlight on the corruption and cronyism at the heart of Victoria’s (and Australia’s) corrupt, lawyer-dominated legal and political systems of government was the last thing that these Victorian government agencies had on their mind.
The Victorian government agencies that cooked up this false and malicious prosecution expected, as is normally the case, that their 3 day witch-hunt would happen far from the eyes of the public or the media. They couldn’t have been more wrong. The inquisitors were overwhelmed by the quality of the intended victim’s performance, buoyed by more than a 100 members of the public and media (surely a national record for solicitor disciplinary proceedings anywhere in Australia for so many members of the public to show up to defend him) filling 99% of the seats in the largest hearing room in the building. Alarmed at the prospects of becoming the first government officials to be prosecuted and jailed (for up to 2 years each, per count) under Victoria’s untested Whistleblowers Protection Act of 2001, the red faced and visibly shaken inquisitors (State government agency lawyers) immediately entreated me to seek an adjournment, which was readily given to me, on the red-faces saving basis that I could pursue avenues to get independent legal advice and representation before hearings resume on 6 July 2012.
A mere 4 days of behind closed doors caucusing later, fearful of widespread public attention and media exposure, fearful of the spotlight they have turned on themselves, the Victorian Government started using language such as “suppression orders” and “we can only seat 40 people” – a far cry from the “fair, open, efficient justice for all Victorians” slogans plastered on the doors and walls of this particularly low-performance Government Tribunal and agency.
This hearing (sub-named Michael McGarvie – Legal Services Commissioner v Harold James Johnson) is the biggest Australian whistle blowing, corruption and media exposing event of 2012.
Barely half a day old, this hearing is already living up to its name as “Lawyerocracy on Trial”.
And the documentary (in progress) of the same title will be released prior to Christmas, irrespective of what stage of progress the trial itself is at at that stage.
LAWYEROCRACY ON TRIAL – THE MOVIE
Every one who turns up at any of the hearings, either watching from the public gallery (which can seat as many 100s as turn up), the press gallery, or testifies from the witness box will get their names in the credits at the end of the documentary, and tickets to walk down the red carpet on the opening night premiere of the documentary in Melbourne (prior to Christmas).
The Victorian Government intended this to be a 3 day witch-hunt where they held all the pitch-forks. They intended this to be a so-called disciplinary proceeding (on false, 2 and 3/4 times dismissed, grounds of ‘professional misconduct’) brought against a senior barrister and solicitor (more than 20 years good standing), who has consistently demonstrated professional standards clearly putting him within the top 1% of the legal profession (unlike those who masterminded the prosecution). But, and here is the rub, a candidate for federal parliament who for more than 3 years has been among Australia’s most prominent whistle blowers – exposing corruption, cronyism and lack of professional and even legal standards within lawyers and government, who 3 years earlier initiated a fifty million dollar Supreme Court counterclaim against the legal regulator and both his “secret” informants (a Federal Barrister and a Federal Magistrate), making them the nineth, seventh and tenth defendants by counterclaim, respectively.
Could every letter and every sound in every word of the expression “Criminal Reprisal against a Whistleblower” ever be any more deeply underlined for the benefit of prosecuting authorities wishing to take Victoria’s untested Whistelblower Protection Act of 2001 for a solid, open and shut, test drive?
VICTIMS OF LAWYEROCRACY – VICTIM IMPACT REGISTER
All Australians who have suffered loss or damage at the hands of negligent (or worse) solicitors are encouraged to download, complete and register a Victim Impact Statement (see VICTIM IMPACT REGISTER PAGE on this blog).
This is an Australia-wide problem of inequality and privilege “above the law” status between ordinary Australians (“lay people”) and Australian lawyers. So Victims from all States and Territories are encouraged to complete and file a Victim Impact Statement.
Since an immediate priority is to convince State Premiers and Territory Chief Ministers that lawyers cannot be left to regulate themselves (see what happens, since 2004 if they do …) “double victims” (those who have been let down by their lawyers (or worse) and then had their faces slapped (or worse) by the Legal Services Commissioner / Board in their State are especially encouraged to come forward with your stories.
PUBLIC ACTIONS TO RE-ESTABLISH ETHICAL AND LEGAL STANDARDS IN THE LEGAL PROFESSION
Meanwhile, outside of the Tribunal and outside of the documentary, measures are underway to have the Victorian Parliament take steps to fund test cases to get the High Court of Australia to repeal a bad law the High Court of Australia enacted in 2004.
In 2004, in a carefully stage-managed multi-million dollar lawyers picnic funded by two publicly-funded lawyer-dominated Victorian government agencies (Victoria Legal Aid and the Legal Practitioners Liability [Evasion] Committee) the High Court of Australia with very little thought and nothing in the way of evidence or analysis, created an extraordinarily perverse laws by which Australia a mere 8 years ago became the only nation ever in the world where it is illegal for law clients to sue any of Australia’s 77,000 solicitors if they are negligent (or worse) in the court room, and to repeal the High Court’s law of that same year under which Australia has since 2000 been the only country in the world where it is against the law to sue any of Australia’s 7,000 barristers if they are negligent (or worse) in the court room.
And following on from the unactioned Victorian Government Ombudsman’s damning 2009 Annual Report to Parliament expose of the Victorian Legal Services Commissioner, Mr Michael McGarvie, (a former partner in the fifth rate Melbourne law firm that gave us the current lack lustre Prime Minister Julia Gillard). In that damning 2009 Annual Report to Parliament the State’s “regulators’ regulator” described Mr Michael McGarvie’s staff of upwards of a dozen in-house lawyers as deliberately refusing to investigate 90% of law client complaints about lawyers (and deliberately chucking the few that his staff pretend to investigate). The findings? That he is in effect running a protection racket that protects negligent (and worse) lawyers, rather than running a legitimate regulatory operation to protect members of the public. Moves are afoot to have his corrupt government agency abolished, and the clock again wound back to early 2004 by reintroducing an independent (of lawyers) regulatory scheme such as the Victorian Legal Ombudsman scheme that the previous corruption and cronyism ridden former labor party government (Julia Gillard’s own political party faction) abolished to make way for Michael McGarvie’s “co-regulation is no regulation” fairly Godfather scheme.
MOVEMENTS FOR NATIONAL REFORMS
The need to reclaim Justice and the Law is a national priority for all Australians. This is not just a Victorian movement. Although the problems that began with the 2004 High Court of Australia decision originated from the shady practices (and multi – million dollar public spends) of two Victorian publicly-funded, lawyer-dominated and lawyer-serving government agencies.
Identical moves to those in motion in Victoria have been started in every other Australian State and in the Northern Territory. Become a member of this National reform movement, in your home State. Track down contact details at this blog to volunteer your time and talents, to register your Victim Impact Statement to reclaim Justice and Law for the people by putting lawyers back under the same legal standards as lawyers impose on everybody except themselves.
… to be continued …