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Theodora
9 April, 2010  
Goings On ...

Distractions for the AG at farewell court sitting … Kirby doco goes to air in June … Other lawyers get multi-part TV drama series … Finally, Stephen Archer off the roll … Other disturbances


Sightings

imageThere were so many dignitaries desperate for MCLE points at the corporate lawyers’ Easter knees up at Macquarie Bank in Sydney last Wednesday (March 31) that I felt positively giddy.

The whole day of seminars and lunch was worth seven on the MCLE richter scale.

It was good to see Andrew Rogers clocking-up his points – even if he did have a glazed look on his face during the session on ethics. (Your editor, who knows nothing about the topic, was an ornament on the panel.)

These days the former Supremo plies his trade as an international legal consultant for his arbitration, mediation and dispute resolution biz Endispute.

Every point still counts, even for ex-judges.

* * *

imageMagistrate Paul Sloane hung-up his gown after 20 years or so as a NSW beak.

On April 1 there was a formal sitting at Penrith, presided over by chief magistrate Graeme Henson, to say farewell to the Sloane Ranger.

The sepulchral NSW Attorney General John Hatzistergos (pic) spoke, rather woodenly.

However, while Henson and the retiring magistrate gave their addresses, the AG was head down, frantically messaging with his BlackBerry at the bar table.

Lesser members of the profession might be hauled over the coals for such discourtesy.

When it came time for the tea and bikkies those who tried to engage Hatz in a bit of friendly chat got the famous glacial treatment.

In his speech Hatzistergos mentioned he was the 13th attorney general to hold that office since Paul Sloane commenced work in the Courts of Petty Sessions in 1968.

That was back in Ken McCaw’s day – another memorable AG.

Idiot box

Brace yourself for yards of fascinating viewing on the “air”, as my mother used to say.

Sunday June 27 will see the ABC broadcast the eagerly awaited documentary on the life and contributions of Michael Kirby AC CMG, etc.

There is footage of the jurist from 40 years ago, no doubt culled from ASIO files.

Naturally, there are a number of warm-up events, including a series of previews in Sydney at Parliament House and Customs House.

imageThen in Melbourne, then around the rest of the wide, burnt land.

The doco is being produced by Sue Maslin and the director/writer is Daryl Dellora.

The synopsis says that filming started during the judge’s final days on the High Court and explores his “personal, moral and spiritual convictions, which provides the framework for understanding one of Australia’s greatest legal minds”.

Some who have glimpsed the footage say that the on-screen Kirbs looks like Claude Raines (seen here), while Johan steals the show.

Put it in your diary. Could be a rough night’s viewing.

* * *

Kirby will have to be content with a single doco.

On the other hand there is no limit to the relentless unpacking of the life and times of Sydney barrister Charles Waterstreet.

His legal career is to be gelled into an eight part series for the ABC under the title Rake.

imageFilming gets underway this month.

Richard Roxburgh plays a criminal defence barrister called Clever Greene who “defends the indefensible”.

It’s based on Waterstreet (seen here), whose obsession with himself has already seen a couple of volumes of autobiography, newspaper columns, a play and an entire episode of Australian Story.

The blurb for Rake says that Greene is a “champion of the lost cause … both in the court room and the bedroom”.

The inevitable opera Waterstreet Down directed by Neil Armfield cannot be far away.

imageActually, I see Charlie Boy is launching the latest photos from the lens of senior crown prosecutor Mark Tedeschi (pic) on May 1 at the Frances Keevil Gallery in Double Pay.

The most recent Tedeschi exhibition of leading lights in the law was a knockout. The new series of snaps is called City of Light – showing the architecture, people and ambiance of Gay Paree.

* * *

Former lawyer and drug importer Andrew Fraser is spreading his story over a 10 part series for pay-TV.

Called Killing Time Fraser will be played by David Wenham. The screenplay is by Ian David with Fraser as a consultant.

Originally Fraser saw his two volume autobiography as a factual series, but director Jason Stephens has turned it into a big, fat drama.

One of the last things I read about Fraser is that the coppers were sniffing around trying to work out whether profits from his books should be seized as proceeds of crime.

There’s talk the whole enterprise may turn into a “franchise”, like Underbelly. Stephens said:

“There’s a possibility that the brand will could work with the template we’re setting up in the way we tell the story, with Fraser in jail and looking back on his life.”

Wouldn’t it be good if Kirbs, Charlie and Andrew could all be franchises?

Archer

How time flies.

It took a mere seven years and 13 decisions of the NSW Administrative Decisions Tribunal to see the former adornment of the bar and tax malingerer Stephen Archer off the jam roll.

The ADT handed down its strike off order today (Friday, April 9) after having found the old toad guilty of professional misconduct in November.

Archer’s tax default was on a grand scale. The aggregate of his income tax liabilities for the 15 years between June 30, 1988 and June 30, 2002 was $2.5 million (excluding penalties and interest).

At most the ATO ever got $428,406 from him in that period.

That is a fairly generous tax rate of 17 percent.

imageThe tax lost to the revenue was just over $2 million, which over the 15 relevant years averaged at least $139,189 a year.

However, it was his smartypants and pedantic responses that got the goat of the tribunal.

At one point, in the interminable correspondence with the Bar Association, Archer (pic) wrote:

“My financial obligations to the Commissioner of Taxation are only of concern to the Commissioner and me. There is no public interest in them, legitimate or otherwise. There is no public interest in a consideration of the extent to which I did not discharge those obligations.”

Bits of the transcript of proceedings are also enlightening:

Q: Now would you agree that in this period covered by the information you took advantage of the full range of public services made available by taxation?

A: I don’t know what that means so I can’t agree with it.

[snip]

Q: You say in paragraph 72: ‘All I have not done is to pay all the tax that I have been assessed to pay’.

A: That’s right.

Q: And you say that notwithstanding that you continued to believe you’re a person of good fame and character.

A: Yes.

Q: And it has nothing to do with your fitness to practise?

A: Nothing whatever to do.

Not much contrition there.

The only thing left for Archer was the argument that he committed the offences amounting to professional misconduct eight-and-a-half years ago.

In the case of Hamman seven years had elapsed between the misconduct and the strike-off order.

Hamman was full of contrition, yet he was still ejected from the jam roll.

Here, Archer refused to acknowledge the implications of his misconduct.

There was no where else to go but out.


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