Man ‘scandalised’ court with home-made signs claiming judges corrupt
A man has been found guilty of “scandalising” the court over home-made corruption signs – but in his defence claimed he never said judges were corrupt, only that they might be.
A judge will allow a damages claim by a critically-ill former stonemason to be fast-tracked. (Supplied)
The man had erected the signs around his home near Brisbane, after apparently being left bitter over a court case in which he was involved.
The signs named certain judges, made potentially defamatory statements and were visible to passing traffic. The man resisted requests to pull down the signs.
After an internal complaint, Attorney-General Yvette D’Ath took action against the man, a disability support pensioner, arguing the signs scandalised the courts and could undermine public confidence in the system.
The Supreme Court judge who heard the contempt of court matter last month noted that the man had been motivated by the outcome of a court case in which his barrister had made “intemperate scandalising remarks in court about the judicial officer hearing the case in which they appeared”.
Court staff took photos of the signs, and sought to convince the man to pull them down under threat of a contempt of court charge.
“On 2 February 2019, the respondent replied to the acting principal registrar by a long and rambling email denying, inter alia, that he had a case to answer because he “had not stated that (one of the judges) IS corrupt; just that there is a possibility, a mathematical probability or likelihood,” the Supreme Court judge noted.
While the Supreme Court judge did not accept the man’s defence, he was loathe to impose the $5,000 fine being sought, due to the man being a pensioner, with limited capacity to pay, and because “his contempts, although prima facie serious, are less so when seen in the light of the facts discussed above”.
The Supreme Court judge ordered the man pay the Attorney-General’s costs in bringing the case, capped at $5,000.