James Ashby has won his appeal against the summary dismissal handed down by Justice Rares in the Peter Slipper sexual harassment case. But we won’t be seeing Justice Rares again in this matter as would be the norm as Rares has already done a runner. It will now be sent back to the federal court for a new judge to hear the case.
The list of dodgy judgements by Rares is growing as I pointed out in a post when Justice Rares was appointed to hear the case back in April 2012 and I foreshadowed a probable move for summary judgement. (Click here to read)
Remember Rares is the man who tried to legalise Optus’s copyright theft from Telstra, ARL and AFL in 2012 which was also overturned on appeal by the full court only two months later. The reason it was overturned was simply because Rares’s judgement was that stupid beyond belief the appeals court had no choice but to overturn it.
In almost all professions if you keep on failing at your trade you are eventually kicked out of that profession. But in the cases of judges like Rares not much happens. The fools just keep on getting paid, waste more taxpayers money and damage people’s lives.
The former Labor government tried to protect Peter Slipper in his court case to keep his support the same way as they tried to protect the newly convicted criminal and former federal MP Craig Thomson to keep his vote so the Labor Party could stay in power.
The Labor Party did whatever it took to stay in power which in Slipper’s case meant making sure Justice Steven Rares handed down a dodgy judgement countersigned by the then Attorney-General Nicola Roxon. This was after Mrs Roxon and other federal Labor MP’s blatantly and openly interfered in the administration of justice by making public statements designed to influence Justice Rares which they did given his dodgy judgement.
The appeal judgement by Justice Mansfield, Justice Siopis and Justice Gilmour
The full judgement in the appeal can be read by clicking here Ashby v Slipper  FCAFC 15. I have not read the whole judgement as it is rather long but a few key points in the SMH are:
Justices John Mansfield and John Gilmour said: “We are satisfied that the evidence before the primary judge did not warrant the adverse finding said to constitute an abuse of the court’s process on the two bases found and did not warrant the rejection by his honour of the sworn and unchallenged evidence of each of [James] Ashby and [Michael] Harmer.”
Justices Gilmour and Mansfield found Justice Rares erred in two central ways.
Justice Rares found Mr Ashby didn’t have feelings of distress and harassment as a result of Mr Slipper’s conduct towards him because Mr Ashby didn’t complain of it in text messages to friends.
In fact, there was other evidence, which could have been explored at trial, which demonstrated Mr Ashby was feeling ashamed and distressed.
Secondly, Justice Rares found Mr Ashby participated equally in sexually suggestive exchanges with Mr Slipper.
“A detailed review of those materials does not support such a finding,” Justices Gilmour and Mansfield said.
“The inappropriate sexualised remarks were conveyed by Slipper. Ashby’s responses were either to ignore them, rebuff them or attempt to change the subject.” (Click here to read more)
So why did Rares do a runner
When Rares handed down his judgement in December 2012 dismissing the case he awarded costs to Peter Slipper and the decision of how much costs was set down for legal argument. But Rares knew his judgement would be overturned on appeal and sent back for him to hear the case so he used the hearing for costs to get out of the case as Rares was getting a hiding on social media as he should have. His reputation was being destroyed at a rapid pace online and he had to jump ship.
I wrote in February last year:
“In an unprecedented move Justice Rares has slipped out the back door after handing down his judgement in the James Ashby v Peter Slipper matter and will not hear Peter Slipper’s costs claim against Ashby and his lawyer Michael Harmer. While this might seem minor sometimes it is the small things that can tell a story or in this case add to the story.”
“Justice Rares has been quoted as saying “he felt it would be more appropriate if another judge heard the argument over costs”. But that is it. The report does not expand on it. So why does he feel it is “more appropriate” for another judge to hear it. To me it is almost an admission that his original judgement was dodgy.” (Click here to read more)
Who will win the court case is anyone’s guess based on the evidence that has been in the media and maybe we will never know if it is settled out of court which is the most likely outcome from what I can see. But one thing is for sure and that is Justice Rares should never have dismissed the case and Rares knew exactly what he was doing when he handed down his dodgy judgement.
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