this morning i had the county court appeal of two separate decisions made in the magistrates’ court last year.
i had applied for leave to appeal both conviction and sentence in both cases, but following the supreme court appeal decision (which makes impossible any human rights defence), i decided to only appeal the sentence of both cases.
one case, richards v magee, involved many separate incidents across the cbd over many months, i was found guilty in the magistrates court, fined $1000, and ordered to pay restitution of 42,000 odd dollars for the hundreds of postered ad panels concerned.
the main reason i appealed that decision was the outrageous restitution figure, which was not proven by adshel at all, which i believe was massively inflated and/or totally fabricated by adshel.
it turned out that the prosecution had made an error by rolling all incidents into a single charge to which i had plead not guilty (apparently that can only be done as some sort of plea bargain thing if i agree to plead guilty or something), so they had to drop the restitution figure, only include one incident in the single charge, and they then didn’t seek restitution for that one incident — only the $1000 fine remained.
so now my ambition to become a negative millionaire is looking as hopeless as everything else in the world :(
in the other case, sidhu v magee, i was appealing the 70 day jail sentence which was fully suspended for a period of 2 years (meaning next time i was convicted of posting bills (which would surely be within two years) i would have to serve 70 days).
i was a little concerned i wasn’t going to do much better in this sentencing as judge jordan appeared visibly irritated when, after perusing my criminal record, it became clear that neither fines nor terms of imprisonment would act to deter my ongoing protests.
it could have been the case that the county court judge would still impose a prison sentence, perhaps a lesser term than 70 days, but not suspend the sentence, so i wouldn’t get to walk out of court, but would be taken into custody immediately.
i was represented by james anderson (who has previously acted as my lawyer and is now a barrister) and he tried to point out, among other things, that my politically expressive postering “offences” were lower on the scale of poster-based offending than other commercially-driven posters, or of posters affixed to an actual person’s property.
the judge didn’t seem to be able to listen to and understand these simple arguments, i think he was just all tied up in his own repulsion to my mentality, later declaring that my human rights defence in the supreme court was akin to me stating that i am the only one that should be allowed to speak, which is of course exactly what i was trying to say.
it was hard for me to sit in the dock in silence while all these ridiculous things were being said, such as that i was a zealot, and a fanatic — james politely stated that ‘zealot’ was perhaps a pejorative term, but the judge insisted i was indeed a bona fide zealot in his honourable assessment.
the macmillan dictionary (strangely the only one i could find that captures the common pejorative meaning of the word, with it’s implications of violence): ” zealot: someone who believes they are right to do whatever will help their political or religious ideas to succeed, even if it is cruel or unfair” — i guess i am being cruel and unfair to those huge multinational advertising companies by peacefully protesting their undemocratic domination of our public spaces and media systems.
another annoying thing the judge did was tell me, after reducing my jail sentence to a fine, that the only reason for his leniency was my guilty plea — i hadn’t plead guilty, i had only appealed the sentence to the finding of guilt which was made in response to my initial not guilty plea.
anyway, it was a good result in some ways, and probably only went so well because i had representation, but it was a welcome reminder of how awful it is to have a judge insulting you directly in front of you without you having the opportunity to retort — i could have spoken out of turn (seen as i was given no turn, any speaking would have been out of turn) but i’m just really polite for a fanatical zealot.
i will be representing myself in all the coming magistrates’ hearings — i think the only pretext of a legitimate legal argument that i can run, in which i can discuss my broader motivations, is a self-defence defence (the term ‘self-defence’ including protection of others) which, while totally reasonable, is far too “abstract” for a court to ever accept, which means a lawyer could never run it (even if i was eligible for legal aid).
i have little doubt that faced with a serial ‘offender’ who is unable to be reformed by either a fine, or jail, or a stern lecture (and who won’t consent to any community corrections order), a magistrate will soon enough convert their unfamiliar and completely unwelcome feelings of powerlessness into a prison sentence out of pure spite — i mean how dare a convicted criminal have the self-respect to continue to regard his own complex reasoning as more influential than a judge’s powerful bald assertions about the supremacy of property law?
maybe i’ll just have to start telling them the reason i don’t listen to them — because they never engage the real issues i am motivated by, because even they know they couldn’t possibly argue effectively against my motivating concerns, so instead they just retreat back to their blinkered, purely-legalistic positions regarding right and wrong — i’m sure they’ll understand and that that won’t just anger them further :)