this was the second posting bills charge to go to the magistrates court — this time regarding an ‘incident’ where i covered over three video advertisement panels inside flinders street station in the middle of the day, i have previously included pictures of this ‘incident’ in this post.
i was interrupted by metro staff after applying paste to the fourth screen and shortly after the police arrived from their booth which adjoins flinders street station.
the police issued me with a fine, which was greater than $200, which i contested to have heard in the magistrates court and plead not guilty (with the same freedom of expression defence) — the magistrate in this case, magistrate watkins, ended up finding me ‘guilty’ (conflating posting bills with criminal damage just as magistrate capell did) and fining me $75 — so i guess this could be classed as my first legal success story as a self-representing accused.
in this case i decided to give lengthy evidence, explaining myself properly and addressing issues generally raised by magistrates including my rejection of alternatives and my mental health — this is the approach i’ll take from now on, i regret that i didn’t give such thorough evidence in the case before magistrate capell, as the first hearing in the magistrates court is the only opportunity to give evidence which can be drawn upon in subsequent appeals to higher courts.
i didn’t think i would get emotional while honestly reporting my thoughts, feelings and subsequent choices of action, but i did a bit, must be something about sharing it with other people, i certainly wasn’t ‘moved’ while preparing the speech.
i was thinking that a magistrate might not want to listen to who i was and why i was doing what i was doing, and may try to cut short my evidence or ask me why any of it was relevant, but magistrate watkins was willing to listen as well as respectful and patient when i was having difficulty — i had to pause a couple of times, have some water, you can hear my voice breaking up a bit, it was a real academy-award performance.
it left me thinking i had unwittingly turned into some sort of court-room performance artist (yuk), perhaps i’ll incorporate some contemporary dance, singing or spoken-word poetry into my next performance.
here is the first part of the hearing:
the matter was then stood down until the magistrate had read my submissions, it took at least an hour, but i can’t quite remember.
the prosecutor approached me just after the adjournment — he prefaced his comment by saying that it might seem patronising, or insincere, or something, coming from a prosecutor, but he told me that he has two daughters and if they were into the sorts of things we were into (referring to me and my friends that had come to court) he would be glad, or very happy, or something — but of course, after the break he came back and said why what i had done was not acceptable and damaging to society.
here’s part two:
magistrate watkins stated at the end that, although he had found against me, he had enjoyed the case and would watch with interest to see the result of the appeal — i hope the supreme court judge i draw in the appeal of magistrate capell’s decision enjoys the case (instead of finding it extremely personally offensive such as other judicial figures have) — and even if she/he can’t find the courage to find in my favour, at least in the decision considers my argument with enough fairness to make any subsequent appeal more likely to proceed and succeed.
again the whole result is down to the judge i draw, not matter how much preparation i put in — and political beliefs don’t come into consideration at all…… no …. of course not.