News & Current Affairs
By Steven Strong
Australian Court Found Altering Official Court Transcripts After Magistrate Slanders Leading Indigenous Rights Activist?
To begin with, the following story was meant to represent a symbolic statement of support for the sovereignty of the indigenous Githubal people, and a chance to air the details of a grievous insult to their sacred men's site. But an outrageous public slandering made by a court Magistrate, several omissions and revisions made to the court's 'official' transcript of proceedings, and the obvious obstruction coming from the highest levels of Australia's legal institutions who are sworn to uphold the truth were never meant to be part of this story either.
It was my day in Lismore Local Court, located on the east coast of Australia. I was challenging a speeding fine. My intention was to make claim that, owing to the fact I was fined while on traditional Githubal country, a people with whom Australia's unlawful 'white fella' government have never reached a treaty. I was under the jurisdiction of Original Sovereign Law. Given that I was actually fined after being delayed by road works, and was late to a radio interview in which I would defend a Githabul’s men's site which has been gazetted by government to become a massive open-cut mine, I also intended to use my day in court to raise awareness the unlawful and devious manoeuvres that may see the destruction of this sacred site.
From my ongoing dealings with the Githabul, I knew they were moving forward in applying the principles of Original Sovereignty, which was never lawfully ceded to their day to day affairs. I also knew that the British Invasion of Australia was unlawful, as was the imposition of English Admiralty Law, and that my token gesture was probably as pointless as it was personally affirming.
Despite the impracticalities, I saw this as a chance to make some sort of statement of support for the Githubal sovereignty.
Before going to court I sought permission to do so through the Githubal Tribal Council of Elders an act of respect to the Githubal then sought out the legal counsel of the one person the Githubal consult whenever a legal action or paper couched in official terminology is used: Mark McMurtrie. As a long term (and high profile) campaigner for indigenous sovereign rights, Mark is, in my opinion, the most impressive legal expert on Indigenous and Sovereign issues in Australia. Mark assured me that Sovereign Law and Lore overrides whatever legal hybrid is in fashion in white fella court.
A Political Opportunist?
Representing myself in court, the Magistrate inquired who I had sought legal advice from. With the benefit of hindsight I should have nominated Jack the Ripper, Hitler or Stalin, I'm sure her response would have been less hostile. My reply, Mark McMurtie, was the catalyst for an amazing breach of conduct on the Magistrate's part.
Magistrate R. Denes became extremely agitated, and shockingly openly aired her personal opinion that Mr. McMurtrie is a 'political opportunist'. Such was the outrageous nature of her first accusation that everything said past that point simply became background noise. For Mark to be accused of being a political opportunist by the officer bound to uphold the highest standards of impartiality and truth, when he was neither listed to be called as a witness nor present in the court, was as slanderous as it was cowardly.
For any judge or magistrate to pass such a serious verdict (which was merely her opinion), calling into question Mark's honesty and integrity, could only be sanctioned if an actual court case was conducted and the person accused was present in court. None of these scenarios applied, and after some time my initial stunned reaction was overwhelmed by the unjust and unprofessional character assassination, and I objected. I maintained that I have the right to choose my own legal advice from whomever I deem worthy.
From the point that Magistrate Denes' diatribe began, I could see that claiming jurisdiction under Original Law was not going to help my case nor minimize the financial penalty applied to me by the court; the final adjudicator had already sacrificed all allegiance to justice. So as a parting gesture, only after my fine was announced, I requested that the financial penalty be paid directly to the Githabul Tribal Council of Elders. This request was denied with a sneer and a parting lecture.
But as far as I was concerned, this case was nowhere near closed. From the time I heard those two pivotal words 'political opportunist' I knew my speeding fine was not going to be paid and that the court proceedings were only just warming up.
Just Warming Up
The next day I made contact with Mr. McMurtrie, and without going into details and strategies, he made it clear this issue would be resolved legally and with considerable vigour. I made it clear I would gladly assist in any way possible.
The first step was to make an application for the court transcript. Weeks passed, then months, and with my suspicions growing by the day I finally rang the Lismore Court House asking for an explanation for the delay. In what caught me by surprise and fueled my fears of 'foul play', they too noted the inordinate delay and independently made a second request that morning. The process of retrieving court transcripts typically takes no more than 3 weeks, and my request was now more than 8 weeks old.
Alarm bells were ringing for me. But I thought, surely, this is a court of law and not a political arena. The judiciaries' sole function is to seek out the truth. I must have been overreacting. As it turned out, when opening the letter a week later and reading the supposed official transcript of my court appearance, I found out that I was actually underreacting.
What I read in these documents is a fabrication of monumental proportion, and particularly the litany of lies on Page 2. In this 'sanitised' version of events, the Magistrate casts no insult or slander nor impunes Mark's character whatsoever! And according to the official records, I have now perjured myself in court by lying about the source of my legal advice!
The Realms of Fiction
The transcript descends into the realm of fiction beginning at Page 2 Line 11 through to Line 35. In the official transcript, the source of my legal advice has changed, as has her acknowledgement of it. Although I consulted with the Githabul Tribal Council of Elders out of respect, the reality is that Mark McMurtrie alone has the most incredible grasp of the legal complexities when Sovereign and Original Law is on the agenda. Magistrate Deans was intimately aware of the political dynamics of the Githabul's push for the recognition of their sovereignty, and of Mark's pivotal role in this movement. And by proclaiming in such a public arena that he is 'a political opportunist,' she betrayed her bias and utter lack of respect.
Clearly his outspoken approach his riled Magistrate Denes, and many other legal officials.
So instead of this accusation and the sludge that followed being recorded on the official transcript, her comments were replaced by an off-hand remark, lacking in explanation, justification or a full-stop. In it, she simply states: Well he's not just really a legal advisor. In addition, my response was apparently to defer immediately to reasons never given, to submit to her opinion of Mark's credentials and to dismiss Mark as inconsequential; the record states that I replied: "No I know but the Giselle (Githabul) are, and they have given me advice on what I should do."
Firstly, this representation of events compounds the Magistrate’s insult to Mark's character, a person I call a friend.
Secondly, the Githabul Tribal Council of Edlers did not give me advice on how to approach my legal defense. I only ever talked to Mark in detail about my intentions. Mark has been investigating Australian constitutional, contract, and common/civil law relating to Original sovereignty for over 20 years. Now I am supposed to be claiming that the group who know virtually nothing about such legal matters are much wiser than the person they suggested I discuss this matter with; the man they themselves seek out for legal advice in such matters.
My statement in the official transcript is a patent fabrication. The Githabul Tribal Council of Elders have never made claim to such expertise, and through my ongoing involvement with the traditional Githabul people, I am well aware of this fact. This is an outright lie at two levels, and the second affront is a much deeper cultural insult that has already caused great offense.
My Involvement with The Githabul
Three years ago, Elders from the Ramindjeri called me down to South Australia to their tribal lands. After considerable time together, they gave me an “initiation” ceremony which is now an integral part of my identity. They also gave me the right to speak on some aspects of Original Lore and history on their behalf, and a banner which epitomises our fundamental goals and inspirations: Wirritjin. In the Ramindjeri tongue, it means 'Black-fella White-fella Dreaming'.
From that ceremony – until I die, I became permanently answerable to Karno Walker and the Elders present at that ceremony. I am bound by Original protocol, Lore or directives. They are my Elders, and I cannot, nor would I consider, contradicting these men.
But according to this fictional hybrid court transcript, I openly questioned Karno Walker's authority and wisdom in a petty White-fella court while dealing with a minor speeding infringement. I apparently dismissed Mark as a novice and directly challenged Karno's authority. And by denying Karno's appointee in Original legal concerns in preference of a tribal group that know very little of legal matters, I would be insulting my tribal Elders.
Mark McMurtrie assisted the Ramindjeri and Karno Walker in winning their land rights in a high profile High Court case, and he and Karno have spoken at the United Nations, European Court and other institutions on Original legal issues. Already baring a traditional tribal name, Karno gave Mark a middle name, Wirritjin. And there is a huge difference here; I have the banner but Mark has the name. He is my Elder in all Original legal issues, and that is not negotiable, FULL STOP!
Back to the Realms of Fiction
In total on Page 2 there are six untrue and deceitful exchanges, and another three that are partially in the 'ball park'. Of the complete fictional section there are three comments from the Magistrate and three meek compliant responses on my part, agreeing with the Magistrate's comments, before I object asking if I have the right to choose my own counsel.
That statement, which in reality is when I actually first responded to her diatribe, runs contrary to my agreeing to all the Magistrate had just said. It's as though I have discussed the same point with the Magistrate four times and said, yes, yes, yes, and then, no.
HER HONOUR: Well he’s just not really a legal advisor
ACCUSED: No I know but the Giselle (sic) are and they've given me advice on what I should do.
HER HONOUR: Well yes and no. Anyway whether or not you want to be instructed by Mark McMurtrie or Mr. McMurtrie at all is a matter for you.
HER HONOUR: You're the one that is going to either have to appear here and plead guilty or not guilty, not Mr. McMurtrie, not the Gidabel (sic).
ACCUSED: I understand that.
HER HONOUR: Not anybody else it's you.
Welcome back to the truth, well semi-truth: I then protested, stating I am allowed to seek counsel aren't I?
In the same spirit of disinformation and distortion, I noticed on Line 43 Her Honour referrs to political aspirations. Out of context and position, from a statement made much earlier, a mutated form of her slanderous comments about Mark McMurtrie do finally make a late cryptic appearance. But such a convoluted effort to represent her comments in court is of no comfort.
Moreover, why is it that in all four pages of the court transcript, every other sentence concludes with a full stop or question mark, but the sentence that marks our initial excursion into fantasy is incomplete and finishes with two dashes? I am familiar with full stops, a trail of full stops, exclamation marks and question marks. I have even seen a colon sneak onto the back of a sentence from time to time. But two dashes is unknown territory. This is either poor grammar or poorly constructed censorship. It is certainly inconsistent with the way the court stenographer recorded the rest of our exchange.
I also note that, as the Magistrate's professionalism continued to unravel, the censors saw further need to apply their sledge-hammer touch to the transcript. From Page 3 Line 6: HER HONOUR: If you want to have a chat at morning tea with the prosecutor at morning tea
If you want, sounds as if I had an option. had none. I was told to speak to the prosecutor; it wasn't a suggestion, but a directive issued by the court. I still remember the stunned look on the prosecutor's face as he told me he had never been told to assist the person he was prosecuting, and did so because he was instructed by the Magistrate and therefore had no choice. The prosecutor was quite put out, but to his credit was civil, and when hearing my case was more than sympathetic.
Unfortunately, on the other side of the bench that empathy was lost to the Magistrate's prejudices of Mark McMurtrie and the road blocks he poses by his work for Indigenous sovereignty to the progress of the corporate government system.
Using the System to Fight the System
I have sent a statuary declaration to the Judicial Commission of NSW formally complaining about the Magistrate's slanderous comments, and made a formal complaint to the NSW Attorney General about the misrepresentation of the official court transcript. I also have a number of people who attended court on that day willing to sign Statutory Declarations, outlining the truth of what transpired in court that day.
I have also filled out the necessary forms to request a copy of the audio transcript of my court appearance. But given the obvious changes made to the written transcript, I don't expect to hear the real unadulterated truth. It will not surprise me to hear a stilted splicing of words said elsewhere, inserted into the sections of dialogue in question.
I hope I am wrong, but I sincerely doubt anything truthful will eventuate. Using the system to fight the system seems all but pointless. The court system is primarily designed to protect itself; the truth is merely collateral damage when its main role is to protect the status quo, and to ensure nothing challenges or calls into question the existing economic, legal and political apparatus, which my original claims of being bound only by sovereign Githabul Law have clearly done.
No doubt, my protests through official channels are slowly seeping through different departments, and the hierarchy of red tape will ultimately prevail. Sadly, this response is symptomatic of a cancer that riddles a system that works only to sustain the status quo. Ultimately, our legal, governmental and monetary system pays allegiance to no individual or group but itself. The profits to be made are paramount, and political and legal institutions are obliged to uphold this sorry state of affairs, even if it means to close ranks and pervert the truth.
And all over what began as a token protest to a trifling speeding infringement.
What else can I do? Write this article? Pay more money and fill out more forms? Wait for an audio transcript that is either truthful… or a dreadful cut and paste job? The Magistrate will continue dispensing 'justice' knowing that, whatever she says, no matter how outrageous, she has a tried and tested back-up plan and a team ready to lie, edit and reposition the facts on her behalf.
So what chance do I have? Probably no more than the Githabul have of stopping the desecration of their sacred men's site by mining companies. But they keep fighting anyway.
On second thoughts, I probably have even less chance of success than they have against the corporate government system, but that makes it even more important to keep fighting.
Post script / a message from the editor:
Steven Strong received a copy of the court's audio transcript on the day this article was published, but (inexplicably) it was provided in the form of an audio cassette! The contents will be reviewed once Steven is able to locate a functioning cassette player. For those too young to know what an audio cassette is, it is an outdated, easily manipulated, readily degradable form of low resolution analogue 'technology' that your parents abandoned in favour of digital technology more than 20 years ago. Watch this space
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