Chief Justice Jim Spigelman

Chief Justice Spigelman – Predetermined Judgements

This post is only a short one but it covers a topic that is quite amazing. Chief Justice Spigelman of the New South Wales Supreme Court admitting what many people know. Although he does try to back pedal afterwards.

In an article that Richard Ackland wrote in the Sydney Morning Herald on the 12th November 2010 the following showed up at the second last paragraph:

Chief Justice James Spigelman of NSW, who would have been chief justice of the High Court had it not been for Kevin Rudd, said something last month that we all know, but least expect judges to say publicly: ”It is all too easy to dress up a conclusion, reached on other grounds, by selecting from the smorgasbord of maxims and principles of interpretation those which assist the achievement of the predetermined result.” (Click here to read full story)

Then on the 11th February 2011 Richard Ackland repeated it in another more relevent story:

The NSW Chief Justice, Jim Spigelman, said as much in a speech late last year: ”It is all too easy to dress up a conclusion, reached on other grounds, by selecting from the smorgasbord of maxims and principles of interpretation those which assist the achievement of the pre-determined result.”

He hastily added that judges wouldn’t do that because ”intellectual honesty is a core obligation of the judicial oath”.

The lawyer, Brett Dawson, helpfully points out that the judicial oath doesn’t mention honesty, intellectual or otherwise. (Click here to read full story)

The above is quite amazing in itself. But there are two things that I would like to add. One is that Chief Justice Spigelman should have gone one step further and added that judges also go through the smorgasbord of evidence and select what they want to justify their predetermined judgement and ignore everything else. And two, that maybe Chief Justice Spigelman might have had a guilty conscious when he said the above because in late 2010 he and two other Judges handed down one of the dodgiest judgments ever in the ACCC v James Hardie case, which is currently under appeal in the High Court of Australia. In that judgment Spigelman, Justice Roger Giles and Justice Margaret Beazley went looking for some dodgy evidence to back up their predetermined decision.

Just as side note Spigelman got his job as Chief Justice not because of his suitability for the job but because of his political connections. Spigelman was admitted to practice as a solicitor in 1972. From 1972 to 1975, he served as Senior Advisor and Principal Private Secretary to the Labor Prime Minister Gough Whitlam. In 1975, he was appointed the Secretary of the Department of the Media by Gough Whitlam. In 1998 the Labor Premier Bob Carr appointed Spigelman Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of New South Wales, and Lieutenant Governor of NSW, effective 19 May 1998.

To read Chief Justice Spigelman’s Wikipedia profile click here

Update: Chief Justice Spigelman announces on the 18th March 2011 that he will retire on the 31st of May 2011. Maybe he read this post and realized his time was up.

4 replies »

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s