James Farmer

LEGAL COMMENTARY

And here is a Report from Stuff of a Virtual Hearing this Week

Thursday, April 30, 2020

From 'Oh dear, this is hopeless' to OK  From Stuff 29 April 2020


And some further comment from me:

I would want to repeat that the reliability of the AVL technology is one thing. Maybe its reliability will eventually be established. But that still does not meet my concern that the judicial process, as we know it, is being compromised to an unacceptable extent. And, now that we are in Alert Level 3 and presumably will be in Alert Level 2 in the foreseeable future, I think unnecessarily.

While I am here, I would quite like to refer back to Steve Keall’s point that in-court “real” hearings “have their share of imperfections”. He is right.

His comment brought to mind an experience that I had when I was practising at the Sydney Bar. I had been briefed for the defendant in a civil case which was being tried in the Commercial Court before the Head of that Court, Justice Andrew Rogers, who had a reputation (justified) for being fearsome and tough in his courtroom (while being absolutely charming outside it). The plaintiff was rumoured to have arranged the execution of one or more persons or, at the very least, was, in a different way, also fearsome and tough. At the start of the hearing, through his counsel he sought an adjournment of the hearing, which was promptly refused. He gave his evidence, clearly with reluctance, and I then embarked on cross-examination. This went very well. I then called for production from the Court his bank records which I had subpoenaed from the bank and which under the procedure used in New South Wales were produced by the bank in advance of the hearing into the custody of the court until called for by the counsel who had subpoenaed them (a useful procedure which I wish our Courts would adopt). At that point, the plaintiff exploded with a string of expletives and leapt from the witness box and advanced menacingly towards me. Someone called out “he’s got a gun” (not in fact correct as it turned out). Andrew pressed a panic button, disappeared from the Bench and out of the courtroom with a speed that would make an Olympic sprinter proud, a security man arrived into the courtroom also with impressive speed and took the plaintiff into custody. However, he got his adjournment.

Jim Farmer
30 April 2020

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