Friday, November 18, 2005

you'd be safer working as a missionary in Iraq

Now for some detail on the matter I'm not supposed to write about.

I attended Port Adelaide magistrates court on Wednesday, as instructed. I arrived just before 3pm, the appointed time. I was alone, having told Sarah that it would be likely a formality, another adjournment. Secretly, though, I wanted Sarah to accompany me. Or, more accurately, I wanted to be accompanied.

As always, I had vague but intense hopes that the matter would be withdrawn, that I would at last be free to seek some justice for myself.

I’d spoken to my lawyer the day before. He said that he would press on with an application to ‘test the witness’ (said witness being my accuser), ‘unless I wished to plead not guilty and take the matter to the district court’. I wasn’t at all sure what he meant – wasn’t I pleading guilty all the while? I said that I was happy to leave the matter in his capable hands. Good, he said.

This seems to have meant that he has gone ahead with his application. I suppose this is a good thing. I don’t know. Presumably the ‘test’ will try to show that the inconsistencies in his story are so great that the only conclusion that can reasonably drawn is that he’s lying. If so, the lawyer may need more data from my perspective to test him against.

As always – and I’ve made about four appearances now – I hung around the court courtyard for between thirty minutes and an hour. Usually I get called in after that tedious time, and my case is ‘processed’ in a matter of thirty seconds. At least for this period I get to step inside the courtroom and to hear the mumbled deliberations of the defence, the prosecution and the judge, so that I have some vague idea about why my case has been adjourned or postponed or whatever the term is. Today, though, I was never invited inside. After forty minutes of waiting, pacing, and occasionally trying to read Paul Krugman on the economic vandalism of the Bush administration, I was approached by the young female prosecutor from the DPP. She’d spotted me from inside courtroom 2 – the courtroom that has always dealt with my case – and she came out to inform me that my case had already been processed for the day. Unfortunately, nobody from my defence’s office had been able to turn up (!)

There’d been an exchange of ‘information’, she said, and a new date had been set, for January 26. Now, I believe that’s Australia Day, so maybe I heard wrong. So, it’s not over, and I’ve got this shite hanging over my head through the festive season. And what’s this information? I mean, what information could they have? I’ll no doubt find out over the next week or so. They could dig up some dirt about me I suppose, but nothing directly relating to the allegation…

Anyway, my young prosecutor assured me that the court would be informed of my attendance. I vaguely wonder if she has any opinion about my guilt or innocence, or if she’s just going through the motions. Withdrawal of the case seems to be off the table of options at present, so I’m wondering if she’s dug up some dirt. It’s enough to drive a body insane.

Which brings me to something most relevant, but more hopeful. Sarah’s good friend Rose contacted me a week or so ago regarding a talk coming up about caregivers and the false accusations they have to suffer. It’s been advertised in The Sunday Mail over the past couple of weeks, and even my lawyer mentioned it to me in our last phone conversation. He was hoping to get a transcript of the talk, or something like. So I’ll go, and be the eyes and ears.

A bit more info on this event. It's a talk to be given by Canadian lawyer Dale Dunlop, as part of the inaugural meeting of a new group, which I should consider joining - the careworkers' coalition of SA (Inc). Dunlop won a $20 million settlement for falsely accused government employees in Canada, where over 10,000 allegations were made against more than 70% of all government careworkers by 1500 former state wards. 98% of these allegations were 'found to be false', the ad in the paper claims (but I suspect this means that in 98% of cases insufficient evidence was found, and clearly the matter of evidence is tricky in historical cases). Anyway, I'll report more fully on this meeting/lecture later.


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