The state of justice

posted in: Life and things | 3

As I write the United Kingdom has yet another Prime Minister. At least this time they avoided the weeks of rudderless drifting to extend the vote for the PM to the Conservative Party membership. I gather Liz Truss was not as popular with the members of parliament as she was with the party membership, and after all, it’s in the house where the action happens.

Her 44 days in power were a shambles, although I don’t think we in Australia can be too holier than thou about it all. We shall see what Rishi Sunak does with his opportunity. Hopefully his first move won’t be a crash in the share market.

Which makes me think.

I don’t really understand why a fall in Wall St should cause a drop in Australia’s share market. Well… I do. It’s because computers are programmed to follow this stuff and to sell if Wall St sneezes. But actually, what does the drop in share price really mean? Let’s take Woolworths, one of Australia’s large retail grocery stores. Its share price falls. The buildings are still there, the customers still come, the profits keep rolling in. The only people who ‘might’ lose money are shareholders who sell for less than they paid for the stock. So, it’s all rather like a lottery. Especially if you look at futures trading, where traders take a bet on what stock will be worth in a years’ time. It’s an illusion saying what a company is worth on its share price. The money is only there if you sell.

The big story in the Australian papers has been the Brittany Higgins rape trial. It’s easy enough to find the details through Google but essentially Ms Higgins claims that after a night out drinking she and her alleged assailant, Bruce Lehrmann, ended up in the office of her then boss in parliament house in Canberra. Ms Higgins claims she woke from an alcoholic stupor to find herself completely naked on a couch, being raped by Mr Lehrmann.

Ms Higgins’ claim of being sexually assaulted in parliament house made headlines months ago and has been in the news intermittently for weeks. Higgins talked to the media (in my opinion) far too often, sensationalising the case in the best tradition of ‘MeToo’. And, as happened with the case of Christian Porter, a cabinet minister accused of raping a woman while in his teens, far too many people decided that allegation must be fact. She said he did it, so it must be true.

The Higgins trial has been held but the jury could not agree on a verdict. It has now transpired that, despite being told many, many times not to undertake any research into any aspects of the trial, one juror was shown to have done so, and the jury has been discharged. There will be a retrial in February next year.

Brittany Higgins seems to be something of a slow learner and I could say the same for her counsel. After the trial was aborted she appeared, visibly upset, on national TV reading a statement about the conduct of the trial and how her life had been put under the microscope while Bruce Lehrmann made notes (or something like that). She should have kept her mouth firmly shut and should have been so advised. Playing the ‘poor me’ card has done nothing for her reputation as far as I’m concerned.

Don’t get me wrong. Rape is disgusting and should be severely punished.

Our justice system is based first and foremost on the presumption of innocence until proven guilty. The onus is on the prosecution to prove the case. If there is any doubt, the jury must find not guilty. And that’s the way it has to be. In fact, Bruce Lehrmann is under no obligation to say anything at all.

The suggestion that Bruce Lehrmann has been under less pressure than Higgins is nonsense. If he is found guilty he will go to jail. He stands accused of something he claims he did not do, but too many people swallow the line that ‘women have to be believed’. He has had to seek help with mental health issues and this business will taint the rest of his life regardless of the outcome. His counsel wisely told him to say nothing after the jury was dismissed.

This sort of thing, trial by media, is happening more and more often. Stand-out cases are that of Cardinal George Pell, found guilty of raping an altar boy and finally exonerated by the High Court, Christian Porter, who lost his political career over the alleged rape of a mentally unstable woman who had taken her own life before the accusation was made, Tim Paine, who lost his cricketing career over a sexting scandal that had been investigated and found in his favour years before, and now this business with Brittany Higgins.

Why do we need highly paid lawyers if the legal system is reduced to the equivalent of stoning?

In other news, I’m still playing with AI art. I’m using it to plot a new story. I haven’t done any writing in quite a while but it’s fun coming up with scenes or even characters. I doubt there’ll be anything finished before next year. But you never know 😉

On a lighter note, a few Midjourney images. It’s amazing stuff.

A scene from one of my books.
Another scene from one of my books.
A green tree frog. It’s not in one of my books – but you never know…

3 Responses

  1. Innocent until proven guilty – Greta van der Rol

    […] I’m talking about this because Bruce Lehrmann has now been charged with sexual assault after a 2021 episode in Toowoomba. Lehrmann was accused of rape by Brittany Higgins in a protracted, ugly trial by media episode that lasted for several years. His trial was aborted, then before a second trial could be held the charges were dropped because of the fragile state of Ms Higgins’ mental health. Lehrmann has always denied the allegation. I had something to say about it all here. […]

  2. Laurie A. Green

    I think we share the same opinion on the “trial by media” trend, and that too much of it is going on of late. Let’s see what the facts say, and what a jury — who is privy to the actual facts and circumstances — says, instead of letting media and popular opinion rule. (We know how that usually turns out.)

    On to the lighter topic, I’m intrigued with your image of Jupiter’s moon. I’m guessing it’s Io? Or Io standing in for an alien moon orbiting a gas giant in one of your stories?

    • Greta

      It’s Io standing in for another moon orbiting another gas giant in my story ‘Starheart’. Starhearts (they’re jewels) are thrown up out of the depths of the moon when there are eruptions and slaves are sent to collect them in these very dangerous conditions.

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