Follow by Email

Friday, January 25, 2013

Pat O'Shane retires today

Pat O'Shane is a controversial Sydney Magistrate who identifies as Aboriginal and is described as a "black activist." She is also a staunch supporter of Australia cutting ties with Mother England and becoming a republic.

She's controversial because a study found that there were 56 Supreme Court Appeals lodged against her decisions, and 35 were upheld. Michael Eburn and Ruth Townsend from the National University College of Law, who conducted the study, said "The Supreme Court has found that O'Shane got the law wrong in 14 out of 16 criminal cases and in one case, she dismissed charges, even though the accused had entered a guilty plea."

O'Shane dismissed the charges against Michael Kanaan, a Lebanese Australian, who murdered three people and criticized police who risked their lives to arrest him after a shoot-out.  He's currently serving life in prison with no hope of parole.

Michael Kanaan

But there's another reason why Pat O'Shane is so unpopular.  Some academics and criminologists argue that the judiciary treats Aboriginal offenders favourably and we know it's true, because we see it reported in the news all the time. Pat O'Shane's record shows that she has been guilty of this.  But it's not only Aboriginal people she favours in her court, it's anyone she believes has suffered from a disadvantaged life, regardless of circumstances. 

Kasian Wililo

The Supreme Court overturned her decision to dismiss charges against an African-born man, Kasian Wililo, accused of assaulting a paramedic, Chris Martin.  Martin ordered him out of his ambulance when he called him a "filthy pig" and spat on the floor. Wililo then allegedly punched him several times in the head.

Ms O'Shane asked the paramedic "Would the court be correct in inferring, Mr Martin, that you don't like blacks?

"No" he replied.

"Are you sure about that?"

"I'm positive"

Ms O'Shane  then concluded that the paramedic had initiated "physical interaction" and dismissed the charges.

Pat O'Shane will retire today and some will say she jumped ship before it sank. In a few weeks, she was due to face a verdict from the Judicial Commission which could have ruled her unfit for the job.

She was born in Queensland in 1941.  Her father was Irish union activist and boxer Patrick O'Shane and her mother was his Aboriginal wife Gladys. She became the first Aboriginal woman in Queensland to become a teacher and Queensland's first Aboriginal barrister in 1976.