“Prosecutors lodge High Court docs for Pell” & related articles

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The Canberra Times

October 9 2019 – 10:02AM

Prosecutors have lodged documents with the High Court as it considers George Pell's appeal.

Prosecutors have lodged documents with the High Court as it considers George Pell’s appeal.

The state’s Office of Public Prosecutions on Tuesday filed a summary of their argument in response to a special leave application from Pell, lodged last month.

They argue there was “no error” in the approach taken by Victoria’s Court of Appeal, which in August upheld Pell’s convictions by two votes to one.

“The proposed appeal raises no question of law of public importance,” the summary states.

“It invites the High Court to apply established principles to the facts of the case – facts that were carefully and thoroughly explored by the majority of the Court of Appeal.”

Pell, 78, was found guilty by a jury of the rape of a 13-year-old choirboy and sexual assault of another at St Patrick’s Cathedral in Melbourne in 1996, but Australia’s most senior Catholic has always denied any wrongdoing.

His 12-page application to the High Court – the first step in his final bid for freedom – included that consenting judges overseeing his previous appeal erred in their finding.

His lawyers say a mistake occurred because Pell was required to prove the offending was impossible, rather than leaving that onus to prosecutors.

They also claim that changes in law over the decades since the crimes occurred make it more difficult to test sex assault allegations.

But Director of Public Prosecutions Kerri Judd QC has challenged Pell’s grounds in Tuesday’s summary.

The DPP says there was “no reversal of the onus” for proving the offending was impossible, or lowering of the standard of proof.

The statement also says there is “little evidence” approaching what could have been described as an “alibi” for Pell.

It further stresses the account of a complainant in Pell’s case was supported by objective evidence.

The High Court will consider Pell’s special leave application documents in conjunction with Ms Judd’s submission and permit or deny the motion.

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High Court told to sound final bell on Pell

The Age

08 October 2019

Victoria’s Director of Public Prosecutions has urged the High Court to refuse George Pell’s bid to appeal his conviction for multiple child sex offences, warning it should be reluctant to override a jury verdict with its own judgments about the bitterly divisive case.

Kerri Judd, QC, told the High Court there was no error in the Victorian Court of Appeal’s majority decision to uphold Pell’s conviction and the Cardinal’s legal team had failed to raise any important question of law in his application for special leave to appeal.

George Pell's only chance at overturning his conviction is if the High Court agrees to hear the case.
George Pell’s only chance at overturning his conviction is if the High Court agrees to hear the case.Credit:Jason South

Ms Judd said that Court of Appeal Justice Mark Weinberg’s dissenting view that Pell had been wrongly convicted was not grounds, on its own, for the High Court to grant an appeal.

“The mere fact that Weinberg JA has taken a different view of the evidence to the majority does not justify intervention by the High Court,’’ the DPP argues in documents lodged on Tuesday with the High Court.

“The [special leave to appeal] identifies no error in the majority approach and no question of law for this court to resolve; it does no more than ask this court to substitute for the view taken by the majority and the jury a different view of the evidence.”

Quoting from the majority Court of Appeal decision by Chief Justice Anne Ferguson and Court of Appeal President Chris Maxwell, Ms Judd urged the High Court to be “slow to substitute its own judgments about human behaviour for those made by a jury”.

Pell was convicted by a Victorian County Court jury in December last year of one charge of rape and four charges of an indecent act with a child.

He was sentenced to six years’ jail and is not eligible for parole until late 2022.

The charges arose from allegations first made to police in 2015 by a former choirboy who said that Pell raped him and sexually assaulted his friend nearly 20 years earlier inside the priests’ sacristy of St Patrick’s Cathedral when the boys were 13.

Pell is seeking to take his case to the High Court, arguing that justices Ferguson and Maxwell failed to properly weigh the testimony of the choirboy against evidence given by church figures who testified to the near impossibility of the offences taking place as described.

Pell’s lawyers told the High Court that Justice Weinberg, who in a lengthy dissenting judgment  found that the jury should have had a reasonable doubt about the Cardinal’s guilt and his convictions should be quashed, applied the “correct judicial method’’ in reviewing the evidence.

In her response, Ms Judd said the “unchallenged exculpatory evidence” referred to by Pell’s legal team fell well short of an alibi.

She said the credibility of the choirboy’s account was “enhanced” by his ability to accurately describe the layout of the priests’ sacristy, an area normally off limits to choristers where the rape took place after a Sunday Mass in late 1996.

The Crown in its response to Pell’s application for special leave also rejects the Cardinal’s submission that justices Ferguson and Maxwell, in their consideration of the exculpatory evidence, in effect reversed the onus of proof and forced Pell to prove his innocence.

Court of Appeal Judges

Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Victoria Justice Anne Ferguson

Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Victoria Justice Anne Ferguson

Chief Justice Ferguson was among the Court of Appeal judges who decided to unmask Lawyer X and release thousands of documents revealing the identity of barrister turned police informer Nicola Gobbo. She was also among the appeal judges who decided to reduce the jail term of Akon Guode, the Melbourne mother who killed three of her children by driving them into a lake. She joined the Court of Appeal in 2014 and became Chief Justice in 2017.

President of the Court of Appeal Justice Chris Maxwell

President of the Court of Appeal Justice Chris Maxwell

Before he joined the Court of Appeal in 2005, Justice Maxwell had stints as the Legal Aid Commissioner and Liberty Victoria president, and once led action against the federal government for preventing the MV Tampa from bringing asylum seekers onto Australian soil. In 2015, when he was made a Companion of the Order of Australia for his “eminent service to the law and to the judiciary,” he said: ”Victoria’s courts have increasingly become agents of change in the justice system, and I have been fortunate to be able to play a part in that process.”

Justice Mark Weinberg

Justice Mark Weinberg

Justice Weinberg, who served as a Federal Court judge from 1998 to 2008, sat on the Court of Appeal from 2008 until he retired in 2018 when he was named as a reserve judge of the Supreme Court. Born in Sweden, he was the Commonwealth Director of Public Prosecutions from 1988 to 1991. Last year he presided over the trial of Bourke Street killer James Gargasoulas.

The next step in Pell’s appeal process is likely to be a brief hearing and the question of special leave to appeal.

If leave is granted, a substantive hearing will be scheduled next year.

Pell is being held in a secure unit of the Melbourne Assessment Prison, where he is only allowed to leave his cell for one hour each day.

He is expected to be transferred to a “protection” prison in the Western District town of Ararat alongside some of Australia’s most notorious paedophile priests.

If you or anyone you know needs support, you can contact the National Sexual Assault, Domestic and Family Violence Counselling Service on 1800RESPECT (1800 737 732), Lifeline 131 114, or beyondblue 1300 224 636.

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Prosecutors lodge documents opposing George Pell’s high court appeal

Victoria’s office for public prosecutions confirms it has submitted a response to Pell’s bid for appeal to be heard

The Guardian

George Pell leaves Melbourne’s county court in February. Victorian prosecutor’s have responded to Pell’s attempt to have an appeal heard by the high court.

George Pell leaves Melbourne’s county court in February. Victorian prosecutor’s have responded to Pell’s attempt to have an appeal heard by the high court. Photograph: David Crosling/EPA

Prosecutors will oppose the grounds of a high court appeal bid by jailed paedophile cardinal George Pell.

Victoria’s Office of Public Prosecutions on Tuesday confirmed it had filed a summary of its argument in response to a special leave application from Pell, lodged last month.

Pell, 78, was found guilty by a jury of the rape of a 13-year-old choirboy and sexual assault of another at St Patrick’s Cathedral in Melbourne in 1996, but Australia’s most senior Catholic has always denied any wrongdoing.

His 12-page application to the high court – the first step in his final bid for freedom – included an argument that consenting judges overseeing his previous appeal erred in their finding.

Victoria’s court of appeal in August upheld Pell’s convictions by two votes to one.

But his lawyers say a mistake occurred because Pell was required to prove the offending was impossible, rather than leaving that onus to prosecutors.

Second, they argue the judges erred in not finding the jury’s verdicts unreasonable, claiming there was reasonable doubt about whether opportunity existed for the crimes to have occurred.

They also claim that changes in law over the decades since the crimes occurred make it more difficult to test sex assault allegations.

They argue Pell should be acquitted of all charges for a number of reasons including inconsistencies in the complainant’s version of events.

But the director of public prosecutions, Kerri Judd QC, has challenged Pell’s grounds in Tuesday’s summary.

The high court will consider Pell’s special leave application documents in conjunction with Judd’s submission and permit or deny the motion.

If leave is granted, Pell will need to lodge a formal appeal.

The process can take up to six months and is sometimes completed behind closed doors.

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George Pell’s appeal bid based on ‘false premise’, Victorian prosecutors tell High Court

ABS News  Australia

08 October 2019

Cardinal George Pell is led into a van while being escorted by police. Photo: The Victorian Court of Appeal dismissed Pell’s appeal against his convictions in August. (AAP: James Ross)

Victorian Prosecutors have said there is no justification for the High Court to grant special leave for Cardinal George Pell to appeal against his child sexual abuse convictions.

Key points:

  • Prosecutors said Pell’s special leave application was based on a “false premise”
  • They argued Pell’s case misconstrued the facts
  • The High Court is yet to decide whether they will hear the Cardinal’s appeal

The Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) lodged its reply to Pell’s application to have his conviction quashed and a two-one ruling by the Victorian Court of Appeal thrown out.

Pell was found guilty of sexually abusing two choir boys at St Patrick’s Cathedral when he was archbishop of Melbourne in the 1990s.

He was sentenced to six years’ jail.

Pell is the highest ranking Catholic official to be found guilty of child sexual abuse.

His lawyers appealed against his conviction.

Justices Anne Ferguson and Chris Maxwell dismissed the claim the jury’s decision was unreasonable, saying the complainant was a compelling witness who came across as truthful.

But Justice Mark Weinberg was not convinced. He said there were discrepancies and inconsistencies in the evidence.

Pell’s High Court application challenges the preference for the complainant’s evidence by the majority of the Court of Appeal.

His lawyers will tell the High Court their belief in the complainant was an error that would have required him to show the offending was impossible.

But documents filed by the DPP said there was no error, and Pell’s argument was based on inaccurate assertions.

“There was no reversal of the onus nor lowering of the standard of proof by the majority,” the documents said.

“The [special leave application] proceeds on the false premise that a complainant’s account bears little or no weight on the independent assessment of the evidence.”

The prosecutors also said Pell’s case misconstrued the facts.

“A proper consideration of the evidence demonstrates that the majority were correct to conclude that it was open to the jury to find that (A) and the other boy (B) were in the Priests’ Sacristy during the ‘private prayer time’.”

The special leave application could be dealt with on the written submissions, or be the subject of a short hearing, before the court decides whether a full bench hearing is justified.

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Prosecutors lodge High Court documents opposing appeal bid by George Pell

SBS News   Australia

08 October 2019

George Pell has lodged an application to appeal his child sex abuse convictions in the High Court.

George Pell. Source: AP

Prosecutors have lodged documents with the High Court as it considers an application by jailed Cardinal George Pell to appeal his child sex convictions.

Prosecutors will oppose the grounds of a High Court appeal bid by jailed paedophile Cardinal George Pell.

Victoria’s Office of Public Prosecutions on Tuesday confirmed they had filed a summary of their argument in response to a special leave application from Pell, lodged last month.

Pell, 78, was found guilty by a jury of the rape of a 13-year-old choirboy and sexual assault of another at St Patrick’s Cathedral in Melbourne in 1996, but Australia’s most senior Catholic has always denied any wrongdoing.

His 12-page application to the High Court – the first step in his final bid for freedom – included that consenting judges overseeing his previous appeal erred in their finding.

Victoria’s Court of Appeal in August upheld Pell’s convictions by two votes to one.

But his lawyers say a mistake occurred because Pell was required to prove the offending was impossible, rather than leaving that onus to prosecutors.

Secondly, they argue the judges erred in not finding the jury’s verdicts unreasonable, claiming there was reasonable doubt about whether opportunity existed for the crimes to have occurred.

They also claim that changes in the law over the decades since the crimes occurred make it more difficult to test sex assault allegations.

Cardinal George Pell faces the media during his trial.

They argue Pell should be acquitted of all charges for several reasons including inconsistencies in the complainant’s version of events.

But Director of Public Prosecutions Kerri Judd QC has challenged Pell’s grounds in Tuesday’s summary.

The High Court will consider Pell’s special leave application documents in conjunction with Ms Judd’s submission and permit or deny the motion.

Supporters of abuse victims are seen outside the Supreme Court of Victoria, Melbourne.

If leave is granted, Pell will need to lodge a formal appeal.

The process can take up to six months and is sometimes completed behind closed doors.

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