Federal Circuit Court of Australia

Two corrupt Queensland judges, Salvatore Vasta and Walter Sofronoff, should face criminal charges

Corrupt Queensland judge Salvatore Vasta, who is a Federal Circuit and Family Court Judge, has personally been found liable for false imprisonment and deprivation of liberty and ordered to pay $50,000 out of his own pocket in a total compensation payment of more than $300,000 to the victim.

The SMH reported:

A father who was wrongly jailed by a judge for an alleged contempt of court in a family law case has been awarded more than $300,000 in damages after he took the rare step of suing the judge personally.

In a landmark decision on Wednesday, Federal Court Justice Michael Wigney held Federal Circuit and Family Court Judge Salvatore Vasta could not rely on a judicial immunity and was personally liable for the man’s false imprisonment. The Commonwealth and the state of Queensland were also held liable.

The father of two, given the pseudonym Mr Stradford, was awarded a total of $309,450 in damages.

Vasta has been the subject of a series of excoriating appeal judgments, and is facing a second lawsuit brought by another man he jailed for an alleged contempt of court. That case was paused pending the outcome of the Stradford case. (Click here to read more)

If a judge jails someone and it is found to be “false imprisonment and deprivation of liberty” shouldn’t the judge be jailed themselves?

Judge Salvatore Vasta, who is based in Brisbane, is a federal judge and it is up to the federal Attorney-General Mark Dreyfus to take the appropriate action.

But given Salvatore Vasta has a track record of dodgy judgments and is facing a second claim by another man he jailed for an alleged contempt of court the only appropriate action is for Attorney-General Mark Dreyfus to have him sacked which is provided for under Section 72 (ii) of the Commonwealth of Australia Constitution Act.

Former High Court of Australia judge Geoffrey Nettle wrote a paper on the issue of removing judges which starts off:

Section 72(ii) of the Constitution provides that Justices of the High Court and other courts created by the Commonwealth Parliament shall not be removed from office ‘except by the Governor-General in Council, on an address from both Houses of the Parliament in the same session, praying for such removal on the ground of proved misbehaviour or incapacity’. The provision affords a level of protection of judicial tenure by requiring the involvement of both Houses of Parliament and, thus, in effect, preventing the executive from ‘sacking the umpire’.

But it is not without its difficulties, most notably the lack of any definition of ‘misbehaviour’. So far in this nation’s history, it has not been necessary for the High Court to construe the conditions for removal prescribed by s 72(ii). It is, however, conceivable that the need to do so may one day arise, and so it is worth considering what ‘proved misbehaviour’ entails. (Click here to read more)

Like father like son

The AFR reported in 2019:

Vasta comes from a family that has made its mark on the public life of Queensland, and the Liberal Party. His brother, Ross, is the federal MP for the Brisbane suburban seat of Bonner. His wife, Deb, is a well-regarded magistrate. His father, Angelo, is the only judge to have been dismissed from office on a vote of Parliament.

Vasta senior was removed in 1989 over findings of misconduct related to his tax affairs. It cut the family deeply and that hurt was behind a move by federal MP Bob Katter in 2017 to reverse the decision. Katter said that as a state MP he had been part of a “lynch mob”, but the Labor government rejected a bill that would have cleared Vasta’s name.

Young Sal served as an associate to his father on the Queensland Supreme Court after gaining an Arts degree and qualifying to practice via the Barristers Admission Board.

And like his father, there was talk that his elevation had more to do with Liberal Party connections than legal ability. (Click here to read more)

In 2020 The Guardian wrote about some of Justice Salvatore Vasta’s handiwork:

Orders made by the controversial federal circuit court judge Salvatore Vasta have been overturned by superior courts on more than 20 occasions, a review of court records shows.

The most recent decision to be struck out on appeal – Vasta’s finding that James Cook University unfairly sacked the contrarian academic Peter Ridd – is probably the most high-profile one to be voided under scrutiny.

However, it followed a number of cases where appeal judges were critical of Vasta, finding he had displayed “open hostility” to a witness, made threats to imprison parties in family law cases, denied litigants procedural fairness and made basic errors of law.

In 2018 Vasta made an order in a family law case that a child be “baptised as a Catholic”, despite neither parent seeking such an order, and the matter of baptism not being raised in substance during the hearing. (Click here to read more)

The is more than enough evidence that Salvatore Vasta is unfit to be a judge and the only real question is how has he lasted so long?

It is one thing for one judge, Salvatore Vasta, to be exposed for being incompetent or corrupt but at the moment there is also former Queensland Supreme Court judge Walter Sofronoff who is potently facing criminal charges for leaking the ACT Inquiry Report which I have been covering in detail.

Former judge Walter Sofronoff

As I wrote in the previous article:

Former ACT DPP Shane Drumgold has instituted proceedings against the ACT Government in a matter known as “SC/0347/23 – Drumgold v Board of Inquiry – Criminal Justice System & Ors” which is set down for a directions hearing on the 14th of September 2023.

I would expect the Shane Drumgold matter to expand to other courts cases and claims such as compensation and possible defamation especially if he wins the first matter to have the Board of Inquiry findings by Walter Sofronoff quashed. (Click here to read more)

The big issue for Walter Sofronoff regarding Shane Drumgold instituting his proceedings is that Sofronoff will likely be called to give evidence and then he will either have to admit his crime of leaking the report, and the details behind the leaking, or refuse to answer on the grounds it might incriminate himself.

Since it was announced that Shane Drumgold had filed his case Walter Sofronoff sent material to the media which is an attempt to justify his crimes and I suspect hopefully avoid giving evidence in the Shane Drumgold matter. 

I published the below video on YouTube regarding Sofronoff’s leaking of his lawyer’s letter to the ACT government etc:

(Click here to watch the above video on YouTube)

Both Salvatore Vasta and Walter Sofronoff need investigating and charged with criminal offences because the days of one rule for them and another for everyone else needs to stop.

But at least we have, and control, the court of public opinion which is getting louder and more powerful by the day. 

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15 replies »

  1. When parts of the Judiciary in any country are corrupted (as is the case in the USA), there is NO LAW, and certainly no Justice.
    Don’t let it happen HERE…..

    • No way should any insurer cover this dopes individual penalty, odds AG will approve Commonwealth payments to cover the penalty and be business as normal for the disgraced judge, remember when his father was dismissed, Vasta SNR in part of his defence, claimed he thought Cwth AAT was AAT travel company, and this fool was a supreme Court judge .

  2. After Angelo Vasta was dismissed by Parliament, he claimed Racism, on account of being a Sicilian, and Classism, on account of his old man having been a canecutter in FNQ.
    He mighta claimed Sectarianism too, since the Cabinet that gave him the flick was Protestant, apart from Katter and Mike Ahern.

  3. If only judges had been found accountable decades ago, we might have had a better system today. But, being part of the Establishment meant any scrutiny was slight or non-existent. Who knows how many lives have been blighted by their actions? Or non-actions as the case may be.

  4. Qld Family Court Judges acting like Julius Caesar in their Courts isn’t news up here.
    Sicilians such as the Vastas, Russians [Sofronoff], Greeks and Scots have a cultural tendency to form Mafias, which should disqualify them from being appointed to Judgeships.

  5. The elevation of magistrates to being called ‘judges’ has been disastrous in terms of fuelling their vicious egos. For some reason the Federal judges appointed by the last government have generally been dreadful. One can only guess that they were appointed for their political biases rather than intelligence or legal ability. The biases and naked prejudices make any court appearance an exercise in running the gauntlet. It is essential to have a barrister to blunt their behaviour, but the use of multiple adjournments with the barristers collecting $4 to 8 grand a day each time make that an expensive hobby. Twelve month adjournments not only destroy lives, they mean the need to start again for every hearing, often only to have yet another adjournment. The lack of oversight or control of the system or people and their behaviour has led to this nightmare. Complaints disappear into the ether.

  6. The Attorney-General, Mark Dreyfus, should act strongly against these incompetent and recalcitrant judges.

    I have previously complained to the Chief Judge of the Federal Circuit and Family Court of Australia about incompetent, sexist and bullying judges in both Division 1 and Division 2 of his Court and have been fobbed off with a meaningless stock reply form his Chief Registrar, as follows:

    “Judges are accountable through the public nature of their work, the requirement that they give reasons for their decisions and the scrutiny of their decisions on appeal.”

    Firstly, publicity in his Court is practically unheard of because the identities of the parties cannot be published and the media hardly ever write stories about these cases.

    Secondly, much of the incompetence and partiality is unappealable because it occurs in interim hearings where unbelievably wide judicial discretion covers most of the wrong-headed decisions of the judges. The box-ticking reasons for judgement cover up their bad decisions.

    As one leading SC and now a Division 1 judge of that Court said:

    “The primary judges think it will all come out in the wash. They should spend more time in the laundry”.

    Unfortunately, the winner will still be a loser if they are unable to recover the indemnity costs they are awarded at the end of the litigation process.

    The Chief Registrar went on to write:

    “I otherwise reiterate that you may wish to speak with your local Member of Parliament in relation to your feedback regarding the family law system generally.
    As there is nothing further the Court can usefully add to the previous responses provided to you regarding the appropriate avenue to raise concerns regarding the conduct of proceedings and the family law system generally, further correspondence in relation to the same or similar issues may not be acknowledged or responded to.”

    The only way to deal with judicial incompetence and misbehaviour is for the Parliament to exercise its powers to remove judges from office.

    Mark Dreyfus should start the ball rolling on both removing these two judges from office and tightening up the Family Law Act so that judges actually comply with its “overarching purpose” which is stated to be resolving the disputes “quickly, inexpensively and fairly”.

  7. “The purpose of the new Court is to facilitate the just resolution of disputes according to law, as quickly, inexpensively, and efficiently as possible.”

    Quite obviously, the purpose is not being achieved yet.

    Adjournments and having to update financial statements is slow, expensive and inefficient.

  8. John one endorses your comments here.

    The Legal system in so many areas needs to be made transparent and openly accountable to their clients and the taxpayers and deep examination and restructuring made of the system by other than the legal and political worlds. And the Law made relevant to Society’s needs. Long overdue!!

    The Family Court is a farce and needs a total total pulling apart and another form of dealing with this area of Law ensue, and that includes the judiciary,

    I base my comment on other peoples experience’s that tell one of life-shattering inadequacies in the Family Court system, and a rigid system of inadequate and unrealistic methods and ignorance from Judges, the Rules and allied staff.

    Another money-maker for the legal people.

  9. Thanks Gumnut123.
    Both the Attorney-General and the Chief Justice hide behind the “separation of powers” and “judicial independence”.
    They are a paltry excuse.
    The AG can try to change the system from adversarial to inquisitorial in the Parliament.
    The Chief Justice can take a judge off hearing certain types of cases.

  10. “The purpose of the new Court is to facilitate the just resolution of disputes according to law,
    as quickly, inexpensively, and efficiently as possible.”

    Quite obviously, the purpose is not being achieved yet.

    Adjournments and having to update financial statements is slow, expensive and inefficient.”

    Yes John, thank You, we, concerned Families networking internationally agree with your concerns and try to do our part and also try to encourage other Australian Families to acquaint themselves with this inhumane Family Court …proceedings… and to require their Members of Parliament and Senators as well as their Local Government Councillors to do their part to right the wrong.

    When enough Families are able to do their civic duties to achieve Justice with Commonsense re. this sorry affair, proceedings will change for the good of all.

    However, we must stress that the much needed training for all Boys and Girls from early childhood in our compulsory school education system to prevent most if not all the National Family Tragedies too often reported in the Media, is not available.

    Thank You!

  11. The fall of Angelo Vasta [d.2021] is worth remembering.
    He presided over a Murder Trial in 1985 where the verdict was overturned on Appeal due to Vasta’s conduct prejudicing the defendant.
    New Matilda then compared his intellect to a Cane Toad’s and he sued successfully, won a lot of money, and N.M. fell over.
    Evidence he gave at that Trial was contradicted by Evidence he gave to a later Tribunal and it was all downhill for him from then on.

  12. Goodness! … “Where’s Wally?” and “Where’s Salva?”

    More than willing to hear their side of their stories … but I must say in advance … they’d need to be darn good stories, in light of what has come to light so far.

    “… the days of one rule for them and another for everyone else needs to stop.”

    When I attempt to remember any other matters pertaining to authority figures in Queensland, I seem to recall names like Bjelke-Petersen, Hinze and Lewis. to name but a few.

    Appreciate your noteworthy research KCA.

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