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Friday, May 16, 2008

One law for all?

Just what the hell does the former judge Marcus Einfeld think he is doing? Does he think the rest of the world came down in the last shower? That he is somehow above the law that applies to the rest of us? And all over a $77 speeding ticket.

To quickly review, Einfeld was charged with speeding in January 2006 after his vehicle was photographed in Sydney by a speed camera, exceeding the speed limit. Einfeld immediately contested the fine, claiming that he was not in charge of the vehicle at the time. Fair enough if that was true. But it clearly was not the truth. First up, Einfeld claimed that another party was driving the vehicle, overlooking the slight difficulty that the person in question was in fact dead. Obviously our mate the judge is in the habit of lending his vehicle to so many people so often, that he looses track of who has it and when. Even so, the thought of an animated corpse being the recipient of his largesse is a little hard to swallow! It is so often the little things that have been known to bring down the criminal mastermind.

Einfeld made a statement to the police that he was not even in Sydney at the time of the offence, but was dining in the town of Foster. Journalist Vivian Shenker supported the judge’s story, claiming that not only were they together in the town of Foster, but the pair had travelled there in a vehicle belonging to the judge’s mother.

Things began to badly unravel for His Honour, when police obtained video footage that clearly showed mater’s vehicle didn’t leave her property all day. Whoops! Ms Shenker was offered immunity from prosecution for her rather obvious lie, and her story now changed to that they were in Sydney at the time, but could not have been in the vehicle at the time of the offence.

As matters have rolled along, the public prosecution has indicated that it in fact has rather strong evidence showing that Ms Shenker and His Honour were not where she claimed they were. This evidence apparently includes things such as verified credit card transactions by Ms Shenker and even CCTV footage. Through it all, His Honour, or should it be His Dishonour, has continued to stick by his general story that he wasn’t driving the vehicle, even though his various alibis apparently keep crumbling, seemingly as fast as he puts them together.

Things have continued to crumble for His Dishonour, as Ms Shenker, his former alibi provider, has now claimed in court that her recollections are entirely faulty. The prosecution has launched its attack in the courtroom by detailing a number of previous speeding offences that this Judiciary Jackass claimed were due to others at the wheel of his vehicle. Believe it or not, according to the prosecution, his attempted defence of this latest one by using the name of a dead person wasn’t the first time that he had pulled that stunt or at least attempted to!

This man was on the senior judicial bench, making serious judgements against people appearing before him? Apart from the fact that all the appearances are that he is far from honest, even his general judgement would have to be called into question. If he managed his judicial business as he has his personal life, one cannot help but wonder how many simple lousy and outright wrong calls he has made from the bench. So far the media attention doesn’t appear to have gotten around to it. Nonetheless, I would not be surprised to see some appeals being launched in the not too distant future.

One of the truly astounding aspects of this case that rapidly turned from a speeding offence to a full blown fraud case with some 14 charges of perjury and attempting to pervert the course of justice, is the sheer arrogance with which Einfeld has conducted himself. As things crumbled around him, rather than put his hands up and cop to it all, Einfeld has continued to push his increasingly ludicrous claims. Based just on what the public has seen to date, it would appear that a trained monkey would probably be able to win the case.

The arrogance of persons such as politicians and senior members of the judiciary is legendary. In my admittedly limited experience with the senior judiciary, I have found that this reputation stands up to scrutiny. One former Federal Justice springs to mind who was a notorious boozer. I have attended functions where the organisers have admitted that they had to get the Justice up to make his speech ASAP before he got into too many carafes of red. I have also seen the outcome of failing to do so – long, rambling speeches of little more than gibberish at his worst. This individual was infamous for doing that during a case and appearing on the bench the day after, chronically hung over, and seeing nothing wrong with his behaviour. And nobody in the profession ever saw fit to do anything about it. The rest of us would have gotten the sack for acting like that.

As for politicians, allow me to share this little true tale with you. I know a particular member of the constabulary who once made a confession to me. On the day in question, the constable was in a perfectly foul mood and eventually vented his frustration. A local member of parliament, who held a position of some significance with the Federal branch of the Liberal Party at the time, flatly refused to wear a seatbelt. If you or I were to be caught not wearing ours, we are in trouble with virtually no comeback. Police booked this pollie time and time again. Every single time, it was all made to go away. And the Rt Hon Dickwad kept on flouting the law every damned time he got behind the wheel. When making this confession to me, the frustrated copper had just had yet another attempt to apply the law equally, quashed. Boy was he looking forward to the day that this clown lost his seat in parliament!

I am told that this sort of thing is far from uncommon. Indeed, we only have to look as far as the politically unlamented Peter Reith. Mr Reith’s downfall came after he gave his parliamentary phone card, which provided free telephone calls, to his son. Reith Jnr ran up something like $50,000 worth of calls. Reith Jnr also gave the card to friends and the final bill ran to something like $400,000 from memory.

I was a public servant at the time of these events, and used a corporate credit card to pay for various things like staff attendance at external training courses. My use of that card was subject to monthly audit. I had to account for every cent spent on it. If I misused it, I was committing a Federal offence and there went my job, pretty much no questions asked. Reith on the other hand, first tried to claim that he had done nothing wrong. Then he admitted that it was wrong to have given his card to his son, but stated with some conviction that he was not responsible for the bill run up by his son’s friends. Someone must have eventually pointed out to Reith that he was very much responsible for it. But here’s the clinker. Did it directly cost him his job? Was he sacked? Was he indicted for offences against the Commonwealth as would happen to public servants guilty of similar behaviour? The answer to all was ‘No.’ The Prime Minister, John Howard, even refused to publicly criticise Reith for his delinquent behaviour.

Eventually Reith was allowed to fall on his political sword, resign, and repaid the monies after taking out another mortgage. Personally, I believe that anyone who thinks that he wasn’t eventually ‘looked after’ by some party hack or other for having done the ‘right thing’ by the party is kidding themselves.

These sorts of stories are legion, not widely separated and isolated incidents. What indicate is that the reputation of arrogance of such persons is well deserved indeed. As is the belief of ‘one law for them, one for the rest of us.’ It is for this reason that it is essential that the case against Einfeld be allowed to take its full course, free from any technicalities letting him off. For once at least, these strata of society must be seen to be subject to the same laws as the rest of us.

How about some justice for the rest of us who don’t have much choice about toeing the line?

Now we come to my real concern. Apparently the prosecution made their opening statements or similar available to the press as a press release. The defence is claiming, with some justification, that a ‘fair’ trial is no longer possible. The case is so attention capturing that naturally the media are all over it.

Could it be that judicial bungling is going to let Einfeld off on a technicality such as the corruption of the pool of potential jurors?

For some futher idea of the character of Einfeld, check this article from the Sydney Morning Herald!
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