Pell quarantine thread

The High Court will bring down its judgement on George Pell’s appeal against his conviction on child sex abuse offences. Since this may generate vigorous discussion of at most tangential relevance to this blog’s core subject, I ask that those wishing to argue the toss do so here.

Author: William Bowe

William Bowe is a Perth-based election analyst and occasional teacher of political science. His blog, The Poll Bludger, has existed in one form or another since 2004, and is one of the most heavily trafficked websites on Australian politics.

191 comments on “Pell quarantine thread”

  1. WB: “I’m not sure which one you mean, Puff.”

    Obviously you found it after you posted this. You had better delete my response as well, which is a few posts down, as I quoted some of Puffy’s statement.

    Thanks in anticipation.

  2. WWP

    “ If I had to choose between 12 jurors, who you know heard the case, and the High Court, it isn’t even a tough decision. The jury by 10 laps.”

    I’d actually go for the High Court judges but ten laps.

    I’ve got a problem with historical prosecutions. They often get it wrong.

    I really don’t know if Pell did it or not.

  3. It would be interesting to know what the attitude of the Victorian DPP and DPPs in other jurisdictions would be when confronted with the fact that a number of the witnesses the DPP had to call would give evidence undermining its case:

    High Court at paragraph 27:

    [Consistently with its obligation to call all witnesses whose evidence was necessary to give a complete account of material events[7], the prosecution proposed to call 23 witnesses who were involved in the conduct of solemn Mass at the Cathedral or who were members of the choir in 1996 and/or 1997. The prosecution was presented with the difficulty that a number of its witnesses were expected to give evidence of practices that existed at the time of the alleged offending which, if followed, were inconsistent with the offending having occurred. The prosecution anticipated that a number of its witnesses would give evidence that these practices were followed with such strictness that there was no realistic possibility of the offending having occurred.]

  4. kirky’s attitude is, to use the word de jour, symptomatic of exactly why the Pell prosecution should never have gone before a jury to start with. The refusal to accept the decision of the High Court reinforces the complete unadulterated bias of so many against Pell and is a lynch mob mentality.

  5. kirky:

    [‘…given Pell didn’t put himself on the stand and therefore couldn’t be cross examined tells me everything I need to know about him.’]

    No competent defence counsel would advise a man of Pell’s arrogance to take the stand, and no adverse inference can be apportioned thereof. It’s standard procedure for the presiding judge to give the jury a direction accordingly. In short, it’s up to the Crown to prove its case. If Ritcher thought that he had no other option, he may’ve advised Pell to take the stand, but he must’ve have considered he’d done what was required, evidenced by his shock at the jury’s finding of guilt.

  6. William,

    Did you read the articles by Paul Kelly and Ferguson? Absolutely excoriated VicPol, DPP, the prosecution and the VCA. Should never have gone to trial.

  7. Okay, John Ferguson, The Oz’s Victorian reporter. I personally can’t stand it when news reports tell me an event is a “stunning repudiation” of who or whatever, of which The Australian is at all times a particularly egregious offender. Save it for the op-ed page.

  8. The 99% of the remaining prisoners within the gaol system, all innocent of the ridiculous charges used to incarcerate them, are probably wondering about their chance to get to the high court to overturn the earlier decisions denying them their opportunity to repudiate the charges.

  9. It’s all the fault of the lefties at the ABC.
    We’ve gone back to that place have we?
    Oh, we didn’t actually !
    No. We never actually departed.

  10. Diogenes, at [56]-[58] of the judgment the HC said:

    The applicant’s challenge in this Court was not developed by sole reliance on the evidence of his practice of greeting congregants on the Cathedral steps. The focus of his submissions was on the compounding effect of the improbability of events having occurred as A described them in light of unchallenged direct evidence and evidence of practice. The applicant adopted Weinberg JA’s analysis of his submission below with respect to the “compounding improbabilities”[29]. His Honour distilled the applicant’s case to ten claimed compounding improbabilities[30].

    In this Court, the respondent correctly noted that a number of the claimed improbabilities raise the same point. It remains that acceptance of A’s account of the first incident requires finding that: (i) contrary to the applicant’s practice, he did not stand on the steps of the Cathedral greeting congregants for ten minutes or longer; (ii) contrary to long-standing church practice, the applicant returned unaccompanied to the priests’ sacristy in his ceremonial vestments; (iii) from the time A and B re-entered the Cathedral, to the conclusion of the assaults, an interval of some five to six minutes, no other person entered the priests’ sacristy; and (iv) no persons observed, and took action to stop, two robed choristers leaving the procession and going back into the Cathedral.

    It suffices to refer to the evidence concerning (i), (ii) and (iii) to demonstrate that, notwithstanding that the jury found A to be a credible and reliable witness, the evidence as a whole was not capable of excluding a reasonable doubt as to the applicant’s guilt.
    ……………………………………………………………..

    It follows on the ‘compounding improbabilities’ probability theory argument favoured by Pell (the applicant) and Weinberg in dissent – the HC called bs on the ground the improbable events were not independent (accepting the crown argument that the claimed improbabilities raised the same point).

  11. Windover, Regarding ‘It follows on the ‘compounding improbabilities’

    I believe the compounding is actually a multiplying the probabilities of those 10 improbabilitIes make the accused actions highly improbable.

    However, it was shown that one of the improbabilitIes was infact very possible (the garments being too heavy to allow access to his penis). Wouldn’t that make the compounding effect zero and destroy the whole defence.

    Please note, I know nothing of the law, but just wondering if the mathematical logic of multiplying anything by zero gives an answer of zero applies.

  12. Buce, I doubt it, as I said, I know nothing of the law. I have only seen the inside of a court once, and that was when a relative was admitted to the bar.

  13. Windhover
    Thanks for that. The events clearly weren’t independent of each other. It’s funny they used maths because I’ve never met a lawyer who will answer the question “what % is beyond a reasonable doubt?” . 95, 90, 99.5, 99.99999?
    No one will answer it.

  14. I’d actually go for the High Court judges but ten laps.

    I’ve got a problem with historical prosecutions. They often get it wrong.

    I really don’t know if Pell did it or not.

    Wow. I’d be interested in your ‘they often get it wrong’ data.

    We don’t have all, but we have a huge amount of information about Pell. I’m not saying ‘evidence’ because I passed evidence and still have Cross sitting around somewhere.

    If Pell cannot be convicted on all the information to hand suggests it is not really possible to get a conviction without an independent adult witness, so it is pretty safe to see we are seeing almost zero wrongful convictions and are seeing a massive volume of not prosecute and not convict on the 99 guilty going free to save the theoretical 1% who are actually innocent.

    To the extent the courts do wrongly convict people it is a function of police misconduct and corruption, race, wealth and the sickness of our neofeudal society, and sometimes gender (Chamberlain) not the rules of evidence or the design to let 99 guilty go free as if innocent rather than convict 1 innocent (rich well represented person who can have a raft of QC’s convince the HC to overrule juries because they know better).

    And yes I’m uncomfortable with making this crime almost impossible to prove, easy to get away with, it is a really, really, really awful crime.

  15. A claim is made in this thread that the HC having found that a reasonable jury must have entertained reasonable doubt, has somehow trashed the system of trial by jury. The claim is nonsense.

    It has always been the law (at least since Chamberlain) that a court of appeal must satisfy itself that, notwithstanding there was credible evidence to support a finding of guilt, when the whole of the evidence is considered, there is nevertheless proof beyond reasonable doubt.

    As a concept, the supervision of juries by courts of appeal is very much to the advantage of all citizens charged with offences over the state which is the prosecuting authority. The notion that the verdict of juries, prised with evidence that might if accepted satisfy them brd, should be beyond reproach is antithetical to any system of justice founded in fairness.

    Even juries of 12 might err, and we all deserve protection from obvious error if we are to respect the rule of law.

  16. and we all deserve protection from obvious error

    No one would disagree with that, but you’d struggle to find thinking people who could objectively conclude there was obvious error in this case that required the HC to step in.

    There is a massive difference between Chamberlain and this. Chamberlain was a clearly evidenced miscarriage of justice, this is a not insignificant realignment of the already massive high standard of proof in pedophile’s favor.

  17. Wwp, your claim that is not possible to get a conviction without corroboration (without an independent adult witness in your lingo) is patently false.

    The HC at [53] stated, quite contrary to your learning;-

    There is no requirement that a complainant’s evidence be corroborated before a jury may return a verdict of guilty upon it.

    The reason the HC was not satisfied brd was because there was a substantial body of unchallenged evidence (and we may all hypothesise over why those witnesses may have been so keen to remember things so well – but courts of law cannot ignore unchallenged evidence) that stood in the way of proof brd.

  18. Wwp at 9.41 pm:

    [you’d struggle to find thinking people who could objectively conclude there was obvious error . . .]

    Umm, I can think of 7 thinking people. Or perhaps you will claim they lacked objectivity. If so please make your claim of bias. I am all ears.

    PS I lost a bottle of wine betting the HC would not grant special leave, so the result was not exactly what I originally expected.

  19. We Want Paul

    Your statements:

    “If Pell cannot be convicted on all the information to hand suggests it is not really possible to get a conviction without an independent adult witness, so it is pretty safe to see we are seeing almost zero wrongful convictions and are seeing a massive volume of not prosecute and not convict on the 99 guilty going free to save the theoretical 1% who are actually innocent.“

    and

    “ you’d struggle to find thinking people who could objectively conclude there was obvious error in this case that required the HC to step in.”

    and

    “ this is a not insignificant realignment of the already massive high standard of proof in pedophile’s favor.”

    are utter rot.

  20. The HC at [53] stated, quite contrary to your learning;-

    They would say that wouldn’t they. I think a much more credible person on the witness stand once said.

    Umm, I can think of 7 thinking people. Or perhaps you will claim they lacked objectivity.

    I’m not sure you could even make the case that they were supposed to be objective. They were the arbiters as the elite of the elite in an elite game of lawyers. They were applying law not objectively determining anything. They had no evidence of any of the evidence they determined was more important than the conclusion of the jury.

    I know how a ‘supreme court’ works, but I’m not an idiot, they are some of the least objective people in this situation. On the other hand there is a mountain of evidence that juries are very consistently good and impressive ‘objective arbiters’.

  21. PB:
    First, if you read the part of the judgment quoted, you will realise the HC rejected the compounding improbabilities probability approach.

    Secondly, the victim, A, originally claimed that Pell separated his robes to expose his penis. This WAS impossible. What waS presumed to have happened was that Pell hitched up his robes and then pulled the hitched robes apart to expose his penis.

    I think Weinberg and the HC made more of this supposed discrepancy than needed but it was a discrepancy.

  22. Diogenes:

    The reason your question is not answered is because it is the wrong question.

    BRD is not a mathematical concept. It is a reflection of a state of mind, specifically that state of mind in which the holder is satisfied that the factual issue(s), those that are necessary to find the accused guilty, are not the subject of any doubts that are raised by processes of reasoning that are open on the evidence (ie reasonable).

    The holder in a jury trial is each individual juror, who listens to the submissions of counsel, the directions of the judge and the opinions of the other 11 jurors.

    Since most evidence is usually oral, reducing the truthfulness of that evidence to a mathematical probability is obviously impossible.

    Hence asking what % of certainty is required is meaningless to the task.

    (Which is not to argue that, depending on the evidence, % are never important. Clearly in fingerprint cases such % are available. But a juror does not decide on the % but the degree of confidence the juror has in making the necessary findings.)

  23. WWP:
    [I know how a ‘supreme court’ works, but I’m not an idiot]

    I love the transposition. Most of us would assume knowledge was not evidence of idiocy. This seems not to be your opinion. Well played.

  24. Windhover
    I disagree. Everything can be reduced to a probability.
    The phrase “beyond reasonable doubt” is entirely semantic and as you say purely reflective of a subjective state of mind. It is not an objective finding.

    WWP
    There are numerous studies showing the flaws of the jury system. Juries are statistically more likely to convict the longer they are into their month of service. They let the first few off and then realise they are hearing the same BS all over again and have been fooled and convict the last few.

  25. Diogenes:

    Everything can be reduced to a probability. It does not follow from that statement that everything should be reduced to a probability.

    A jury verdict ordinarily (fingerprint evidence an obvious exception) should not. Why?

    Because the assessment of the credibility AND the reliability of the oral testimony of witnesses does not ordinarily enable useful mathematical probabilities of accuracy to be determined.

    You might believe witness A is telling the truth. You might say that with .999 confidence. But how do you know how reliable .999 truthful witness A is in order to rely on that testimony? By trying to atomise probabilities the exercise removes (Distracts) the juror from a proper assessment and synthesis of all the evidence.

  26. Windhover
    “But how do you know how reliable .999 truthful witness A is in order to rely on that testimony?”
    Reliability is also a variable you can attach a probability to.
    If I was on a jury, it would all be a series of probabilities and improbabilities.

  27. D:
    Sure, but if you think you’d be a little pocket calculator with numbers attached to those probabilities it is plain you have never been on a jury. Or been a mum determining which of 2 children is lying.

  28. Just like on the climate (flooding, fires, species … besides other no regret moves) or Wuflu/ @ScoVid-19, it doesn’t appear the fed gov seems to be moving on religion, any time soon.

    Just the rights of bigots. [Or paying attention to types soft on pedos.]

    It should make freedom from religion the norm. As in no BS in public facilities, including schools and parliament.

    Why haven’t organised religion business been split from charity.

    Charge the former tax, and apply OH&S etc like any business.

    Add a polluter of minds levy.

    And of course, apply proceeds of crime legislation to clusters of abuse, after criminal and civil cases.

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