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Theodora
14 May, 2010  
Goings On ...

Confusion about proposed assault on crown prosecutors’ paypackets … Vic Supremes relent and cough-up excess payments … Pistilli v Atanaskovic shifts to the Court of Chancery … Move over Melbourne Cup – here come the solicitor sponsored Balcaldine goat races


imageNSW DPP Nicholas Cowdery may have announced his retirement, to take effect next March, but the sniping still goes on.

Attorney General John Hatzistergos recently proposed breaking the nexus between the pay packets of crown prosectors and District Court judges.

At the moment, ordinary crown prosecutors are paid at the rate of 74 percent of a District Court judge’s salary.

Public defenders are in the same boat.

Hatzistergos wrote to his colleague, the Minister for Public Sector Reform John Robertson arguing that prosecutors and defenders on the state’s purse should be paid according to the various scales applicable to legal officers employed in the public service.

His letter claimed that, “much of the work done [by crown prosecutors] does not involve contact with judicial officers”.

Indeed, their tasks are “no different from any other lawyer or legal officer employed by the public service”.

Amazing stuff.

Apparently, this malarky was to form the basis of a review by the Statutory and Other Officers Remuneration Tribunal.

It seemed the attorney general thought crown prosecutors and public defenders should be tossed out of the pay category called “judges, magistrates and related group”.

However, the proposal created such distress among crowns that it has now been taken off the table.

Apparently, it has all been a terrible misunderstanding and the letter to Minister Robertson has been dreadfully misinterpreted.

Phew!

* * *

Talking of distressed paypackets, I hear that the Vic Supremes have capitulated and after much jawboning, many meetings and numerous silken opinions, have decided to give back to the government amounts of dosh to which they were not entitled.

Victorian judges had been overpaid because Attorney General Hulls had accidentally signed certificates pursuant to the Judicial Salaries Act that contained the incorrect date for the commencement of a new schedule of payments.

See Justinian: Whose money?

The overpayments amounted to $500,000.

Most magistrates and County Court judges paid the money back, either as a lump sum or over time.

However, for some odd reason, the Supremes held on to the loot till the bitter end.

Maybe, the thought of being publicly outed made them relent.

* * *

What has happened to the costs from the ill-fated excursion by the Pistilli partners to extract some more cash from Atanaskovic Hartnell?

In March Magistrate Daphne Kok threw out Pistilli and co’s claim that they were diddled out of $30,000 in billings when they left AH because one of the firm’s lawyers didn’t enter his time until after the break-away faction departed.

By the time Daphne delivered judgment a small fortune in fees had been racked-up during earlier rounds in the Supreme and Local courts.

As Magistrate Kok said in her opening burst:

“The plaintiffs are solicitors. The defendants are solicitors. Both parties are or have been separately legally represented. Not only do the proceedings involve too many lawyers, they involve too many experienced and well-informed lawyers …

Far too much time and money has been spent.”

She also knocked back the plaintiffs’ tilt at a costs order for proceedings they said they “needed to commence” to obtain access to copies of the AH financial records, which John Antagonistic said had always been available to them.

There was an attempt at a costs hearing in early April, however it needed to bear a closer resemblance to proceedings in the Court of Chancery and so the matter was adjourned until September 16 “for mention”.

Where?

Manly Local Court.

Let’s hope there’s a lot more life left in this one.

* * *

Attention seeking knows no bounds.

imageJohn de Groot from the Brisbane-Sydney wills and estate firm de Groots has announced a $2,000 grant to “create the country’s richest goat race”.

To this end he hired PR man-about-town Tim Allerton to spruik the message.

“We hope the prize money will help revive the century old sport and encourage more people to take it up.”

De Groot has even published a book called Memoirs of a Goat Racer and More.

A three day event was held at Barcaldine earlier this month. The main attraction was the John de Groot Goat Racing Cup.

Says it all.