Insights from Quadrant


Much to what one imagines is the immense surprise of Australia’s finest legal minds — self-proclaimed or so regarded — the High Court has accepted Cardinal George Pell’s application for leave to appeal. Apart from presenting the Cardinal with his last, best hope of overturning an absurd conviction, it is also a moment to marvel yet again at the go-to elite of Australia’s opinionistas and why, despite shabby records for getting it right, the media’s quote harvesters return time after time to the same empty vessels.

Why, it’s almost like the punditocracy occupies a matey cubby house from which no error of fact or interpretation is ever large enough to see initiated members expelled.

Jack Waterford, The Canberra Times, August 23, 2019:

George Pell will be doing very well if he succeeds in getting the High Court to grant him leave to appeal after the Victorian Court of Appeal threw out his appeal against his  conviction for child sex offences.  Pell was convicted by a well- instructed jury; neither side had the slightest complaint about the judge’s instruction to the jury.”

Criminal defence lawyer Peter O’Brien, quoted in The Guardian, August 24:

Very rarely will the high court descend into matters associated with facts of a case. If I had a client in this situation, I would be advising them that their chances of high court success are very slim.

David Marr, The Drum, August 21:

It’s final! The likelihood of an appeal to the High Court being successful is, I think, very low

Kerri Judd, QC, Victoria’s Director of Public Prosecutions, as reported by News Corp on October 8:

The mere fact that Weinberg JA has taken a different view of the evidence to the majority does not justify intervention by the High Court … The [special leave to appeal] identifies no error in the majority approach and no question of law for this court to resolve; it does no more than ask this court to substitute for the view taken by the majority and the jury a different view of the evidence.”

Professor Ben Matthews, Queensland University of Technology, educates the ABC:

On balance, it is probably unlikely the High Court will grant an appeal

David Marr doubles down on wrongness, The ABC’s World Today, August 22

The High Court doesn’t do that stuff. The High Court decides complex questions of law. So, while an application for leave will no doubt be made to the court, it’s by no means certain that the court will actually take the case on and give it another review.

Cardinal author Louise Milligan, Twitter, November 13

And so this wearying process goes on. #Pell.

One thought on “Sheepspeak

  • Salome says:

    He hasn’t got leave. The Court has referred the special leave hearing to the full court for determination ‘as an appeal’–which means the appeal will be heard instanter, as it was in the Court of Appeal. Still, it wasn’t the statistically usual decision on the papers simply to reject the application on the basis of no principle of law or insufficient prospects of success.

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