Putting things on the line for justice

Beyond Reasonable Doubt.

I’ve always had trouble getting my head around what this means for many juries around the world. What lies beyond reasonable doubt? Unreasonable doubt?

I might have had to apply myself more to its definition but I never done jury service or senior English.

I’ve always sort of guessed it means you’re 100 per cent sure the defendant done it.

But in the three years I covered courts when The Courier-Mail was a newspaper you could be proud to work at, I had my own fairly simple method of applying “beyond reasonable doubt”.

After sitting through a trial and hearing both sides battle it out, would I be prepared to put my plums on a block and shout: “Chop ’em off if I get this wrong but I say he’s…. !”

It worked for me as a way of understanding “beyond reasonable doubt” although I should mention I might now take more risks with the method than in my court reporting days.

That was a time when my plums were loose, full of juice and ready for use. Losing them if you’ve dreadfully misread the evidence at a trial would be most unfortunate.

Nowadays, the plums are riding high, sandpaper dry and well past their date of use-by.

Nevertheless, let’s apply the plum test to two senior politicians at the moment. Prime Minister Scott Morrison and, currently taking a short break to get his head together, Attorney-
General Christian Porter.

Firstly Smoko. Let’s imagine we’ve been sitting through his trial. The charge: That he wilfully lied to the Australian people about when he first heard of the alleged rape of Brittany Higgins in Linda Reynolds’ office in 2019; ditto for the alleged events surrounding Porter 33 years ago?

On all the evidence I’ve heard, and based on the fact that Morrison’s default position is to lie, I’d pop out those dear old plums, rest them gently on the block, look nervously at the bloke wielding the meat cleaver and shout: “Of course he bloody well knew. Guilty as sin!”

Pause.

Phew!

My plums’ main purpose in life might be over but they’re still fun to scratch in front of the tele.

Now we come to Mr “I did not have sexual relations with that woman!” Porter.

This is a tricky one. Smoko has implored us to believe the word of sexual assault victims because there might be a vote in it but then along comes the multi-page statement from a woman, sadly now deceased, who claimed Porter anally raped her in Sydney in 1988 when she was 16.

The PM doesn’t want us to believe her. There’s too much at risk, politically, because there mightn’t be a vote in it.

Would it have made any difference if she were still alive and her complaint to NSW police were still active?

We all know how horrific the stats are for successful court outcomes for sex crime victims. My best bet is that poor woman would have been crucified if she had had her day (weeks? months?) in court.

The way the rightwing MSM scribes over recent days have been playing up her mental problems, the possibility of false suppressed memories being brought to the surface by supposedly discredited experts, all point to what she would have endured and what the outcome would likely have been.

That’s if there had been a trial. Haven’t those seven black-letter-law jurists on the High Court declared that the evidence of any one complainant, no matter how credible they appeared as a witness, is not to be believed if the person in the dock is famous or very well known?

Yet her detailed account of what happened that night rings largely true, as her friends state in this SMH splash shown here.

So, Donnie, are you feeling lucky, punk?

Prepared to put those tired old plums on a cold cutting board one last time, a worried look at the bloke with the meat cleaver?

Well, do you, punk?

Was that 6000 people you read on social media condemning Porter as guilty as hell, or was it only 5000? In all the excitement, I’ve kinda lost count myself.”

So, here we go!

I think that Porter is dead set, 100 per cent…

Do you mind if I wait to see if that South Australian inquest goes ahead?