Cardinal Pell hires ‘Rolls Royce’ silk and Art of War aficionado to defend alleged sex abuse charges

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9News    Australia

2:45pm Jul 11, 2017

By Mark Saunokonoko

Cardinal Pell hires 'Rolls Royce' silk and Art of War aficionado to defend alleged sex abuse chargesRobert Richter, QC, is widely regarded as one of the country’s top defence lawyers (AAP)

The top Melbourne lawyer handpicked by Cardinal George Pell comes to the sexual abuse case with a formidable courtroom reputation and a history of defending some of Australia’s most unpopular people.

Robert Richter, QC, most famously convinced a jury that Mick Gatto’s 2004 shooting of hitman Andrew “Benji” Veniamin in a Melbourne restaurant was self-defence, and not murder.

So delighted was “Big Mick” with his murder acquittal he went and tattooed the name “Robert Richter” across his chest.

Several Victorian lawyers contacted by proclaimed the 71-year-old Richter, also known as “The Red Baron”, as one of the most gifted defenders in Australia.

“He is the Rolls Royce of criminal defence lawyers,” George Balot, a high-profile Melbourne solicitor who has worked alongside Richter, told

Cardinal and current Prefect of the Secretariat for the Economy, George PellCardinal and current Prefect of the Secretariat for the Economy, George Pell

Richter is an avid reader who “skilfully adopts strategies from the famous book The Art of War by Sun Tzu” in his highly successful battles in court, Balot said.

Balot said Richter’s work on the Mick Gatto case was “sheer brilliance”. Richter charged Gatto almost half a million dollars in legal fees, according to media reports.

“It is extraordinary how good he is,” Balot said.

Ingrid Irwin, a Ballarat-based lawyer who represents people accusing Cardinal Pell of historic sexual abuse, told Richter was “arguably the best lawyer in the country”.

Australia’s most senior Catholic cleric Pell has been forced to pay Richter’s sizeable fees from his own pocket, after the Vatican confirmed it would not cover the 76-year-old’s legal costs.

Robert Richter, QC, speaks on the phone outside the Supreme Court in Brisbane in 2009.Robert Richter, QC, speaks on the phone outside the Supreme Court in Brisbane in 2009.

Top quality lawyers of Richter’s calibre do not come cheap, and his daily rate is rumoured to be a whopping $11,000.

Richter was born in former Soviet Union state Kyrgyzstan and, after a 10-year spell in Israel, immigrated to Australia when he was 13.

Settling with his family in Melbourne, the young Richter could hardly speak English.

Now, Melbourne defence lawyer Balot said Richter’s eloquent performances have become folklore in Victorian legal circles.

“He never says more than is necessary in court and his techniques of persuasion are second to none,” Balot said.

“Even when he whispers his voice is resounding and modulated.”

Gangland figure Mick Gatto leaves the Melbourne Magistrates Court surrounded by media in 2010. Gatto was appearing in court on drink driving charges.Gangland figure Mick Gatto leaves the Melbourne Magistrates Court surrounded by media in 2010. Gatto was appearing in court on drink driving charge 

10 Responses to Cardinal Pell hires ‘Rolls Royce’ silk and Art of War aficionado to defend alleged sex abuse charges

  1. Sylvia says:

    Some thoughts…

    Let’s just hope and pray that the government has a Crown attorney/prosecutor who is the “Rollys Royce” of prosecutors, and if they do, that they use him/her.

    Further to that, I’ve always felt that there is a problem with a system which allows the accused to ‘shop’ for the best of the best, while the “victim”/complainant must make do with whomever is assigned him/her. I also have problems with lawyers whose modus operandi is to win at all costs. regardless of guilt or innocence of his/her client. Is that the case with this Richard Richeter? I know nothing about him, but it certainly sounds as though it was understood that Mick Gatto murdered a man and that Richeter managed, through his ‘brilliance’ to get him off. If in fact Gatto murdered the man then seems to me that getting him is nothing to be proud of, nor should accolades be cast his way for doing so, nor do such feats of ‘brilliance’ in court serve the rendering of justice.

    Just my thoughts. A sore spot. I don’t know what the answer is, but there has to be a better way.

    And, all of that aside, barring Robert Richter offering his services for a pittance or pro bono, looks as though Cardinal Pell will be paying a small fortune for his defence.

    Imagine! $11,000/day!!!

    True or false, I have heard that Cardinal Pell is fairly well to do, but that’s a LOT of money.

  2. Miecul says:

    Do you really think the CC won’t pay for his defense? It might be rerouted but they won’t want to see a high ranked official go down. It should be a good show.

  3. BC says:

    Modern litigation being intellectualized medieval jousting; those who can afford the best champions to fight for them tend to win not because that is the legal will of God as was believed 1000 years ago; but because money buys legal clerks and investigators. The rationale is that it`s not up to defense lawyers to make determinations as per the innocence or guilt of their clients; that their zeal helps to ensure that when their clients are convicted the probability that they are innocent is lowered. Their success pushes the legislator to re-regulate and/or re-legislate and to adequately fund legal systems. The per diem of a lawyer is tied to his/her success rate as much as justices do not want their decisions to be appealed. The more expensive legal defenses do tend to lead to acquittals; but they also act as deterrents(insofar the wealthy tend to dislike spending their own money); and there is a significant public opinion backlash on the wealthy who like Cardinal Pell pay to not be convicted.

    Australia being a contact-sport country even if Cardinal Pell is acquitted in this matter his name will have been beaten into infamy and the Australian Church will never want to cover-up clerical abuse for a long long time.

  4. Mike Fitzgerald says:

    You’re right on the money, BC! “Justice” is for the wealthy and powerful, not for we, the lowly unwashed.
    I will not be the least bit surprised if George Pell walks. We all know he is a bit of a bully, is extremely high on himself, and seems to really like the company of young boys in the swimming pool.
    As well as I can recall, Jesus Christ of Nazareth was not a bully, did not appear to be very high on himself, and history will indicate that he was NOT a kiddie-diddler.
    Perhaps Georgie and his ilk would be wise to follow the example of their self-professed Lord, as opposed to following the urgings of their physical bodies and their deviant minds. Mike.

    • BC says:

      There are several examples of wealthy and powerful individuals who have been convicted and sentenced; be it Conrad Black, Madoff, Milken etc. Money and/or power aren’t immunity from prosecution. Large transnational corporations have also been found guilty of all kinds of unlawful activity. The US Supreme Court didn’t even consider the Holy See’s appeal in Doe v. Holy See. So generally speaking; yes, money makes a difference. But not always.
      Whole areas of law, torts namely, originated from legal Cinderella stories.

      Notwithstanding the outcome of this trial; this is major malfunction for the institutional Church.

  5. Jean-Guy Theriault says:

    Oh! Yes! There is justice for all in our system! …and Conrad Black has suffered so much!…
    The Justice system, the Police, the Government apparatus are in place to serve those of means, the wealthy, the “friends” and yes the Church has wiggled its way in the midst of the elite over the centuries.
    If you can pay, you can get the honey. If you can’t, you’ll be made to believe the water and sugar you are served “is” honey.
    The game is fixed however you wish to “illuminate” the scene.
    It is not a fair world because humanity is not fair; whoever carries the biggest branch scares away everyone else and sets the boundaries of territories. You curl up on a branch, thankful to get the scraps or you walk on the ground and feast.
    Either way , we are not the most dignified creature on the planet but we can pretend we are, as does a Church that pretends to know the ways of God.
    It is all for power, money, control. We don’t have to sound “dignified” for something that really isn’t.
    Pell was guilty when he just “wanted or tried to be honest”, when he drank $300.00 bottles of wine or walked on silk floors! He is guilty to be paying such sums of money for a “legal” eagle because he knows the “Faith” he sold was just sugar in a glass of water! He had the biggest branch for a while, and that just made him one of the monkeys on the ground not a servant of God! He served himself!
    It is all about money, the Church , the Law, the Truth we believe and the One we never understand.
    Jesus was not important. His Message was! That is the “Honey”, the food that cannot spoil.
    Pell was just another pretender that ended up in Rome, to be a Roman, not a Christian. The marble, the gold , the pageantry and the law are not “the Food”.
    The Church as it operates now IS the malfunction.
    Paying for the “Rolls Royce” is just evidence of the disconnect.
    They were losers when the first child was molested.
    They will never win regardless of any pretenders claims.
    You end up paying your account with your blood or with your Soul!
    It is Pell’s choice but none of these molesters fear God, because they are not of Him.
    They are just primitive monkeys who claimed Rome and called themselves holly.
    It will all be paid for very dearly but you don’t have to take my word for it:
    just look around.

  6. richard seward says:

    Of interest, from a friend who has met Pell, he is a huge man, say 6’7.”

    Not the sort of guy one messes with!!!

    He is apparently unbelievably arrogant.

    I think with Robert Richter on his side he’ll get off, despite his crimes, as did Gatto, & many others.

    Richter is $11,000/day, & Pell has 2 personally pay that, since the church has refused.
    2 my knowledge all clergy take a vow of poverty, & own nothing.

    So what on earth is going on?

    I personally knew Pell’s niece, ~ 17 yrs ago.
    She wasn’t a nice person either.

    I guess it runs in the family!

    It’s interesting that Pell, in defence, can choose his legal team, whereas those in prosecution, the victims, have their legal team allocated, by police I presume.

    And they will be totally pathetic compared 2 Richter, so Pell will walk free.

    Our OZ legal system is utterly disgusting!!!

  7. Sylvia says:

    Pell is a diocesan priest and therefore did not take a vow of poverty. It is only priests who belong to orders (ie Jesuits, Redmptorists) who take a vow of poverty.

    As for who’s paying, I’ve heard that a fundraiser has been launched. Have you heard anything about that? I must see if I can find and post an article.

    We have the same problem here in Canada re representation. IF he has deep pockets – or access to those of others – the accused can pick the best of the best to represent him. On other other hand the victim/complainant has no choice. He must accept the Crown/prosecutor assigned – in Canada the decision is generally made by the office of the Crown – police play no role in the decision.

    I have said before and say again, I hope and pray whoever is responsible in the Pell case can come up with a Crown who has what it takes to square off against a defence lawyer who is reputed to be the Rolls Royce of lawyers.

  8. Mike Fitzgerald says:

    It seems the Public Prosecutor is being VERY careful in how he proceeds with George Pell’s case. Absolute secrecy regarding the hearings will be the norm.
    Pell’s first appearance yesterday lasted all of 6 minutes before he was whisked away amid a phalanx of police officers. Next court date for him is Oct. 6.
    It appears to me that the prosecutors are quite determined in their efforts to NOT give George and his defence attorney a chance to claim bias and/or the possibility of his claiming an inability to get a fair trial.
    We shall see……..Mike.

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