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Folklaw 13 May

Folklaw 13 May

Can’t leave the past behindEnraged parents in Argentina have been waiting for 10 years, but they might now finally get their man. So who is the dastardly foe they have been pursuing for the…

Cant leave the past behind

Enraged parents in Argentina have been waiting for 10 years, but they might now finally get their man. So who is the dastardly foe they have been pursuing for the past decade? He’s a rock star who made the abysmal mistake of telling 100,000 fans at a concert: “I feel so good that I could smoke a joint”.

Andres Calamaro was performing in La Plata, south of Buenos Aires on 19 November 1994, when he obviously became swept up in the moment, and felt the need to express his wants and needs to his adoring fans. Angry parents weren’t impressed by his ability to confide and sought to prosecute Calamaro straight away. A judge dismissed the charges in 1995.

A decade later, however, the parents who are still nursing a grudge have found a less liberal judge and Calamaro is again facing criminal proceedings. Folklaw tends to agree with Calamaro’s lawyer, Jose Stefanulo, who described the trial as absurd and “Kafkaesque”.

A High Court tipple tale

In Roncevich v Repatriation Commission, in the High Court recently, it was revealed that a soldier who consumed eight cans of beer at a mess function at Holsworthy barracks then went upstairs to his room and, while ironing his shirt for the next day, fell out of a window and injured himself. He claimed compensation from the Army saying that his injury was caused by his “defence service” as a soldier. Part of the argument depended on showing that drinking significant amounts of alcohol was part of the army culture in which the soldier had been educated.

Both Justice Callinan and Justice Kirby had some interesting points to make about drinking, soldiers, and the legal profession — evidently the three are more closely related that many might think.

CALLINAN J: It was frowned upon if you drank light beer. Page 16, line 15: "Full strength?---Oh yeah, it’s frowned upon you’re a wuss if you drank that light stuff."

KIRBY J: What is a wuss?

MR HANKS: I think in Victoria it is a wooz.

KIRBY J: What is it?

McHUGH J: It is you when you drink only one glass of beer.

KIRBY J: I would not fall out of the window.

KIRBY J: As Justice Callinan pointed out in the special leave hearing, whatever may have been the legal obligation of the soldier it was a very common thing and expected of him that he would turn up at a mess function with a senior officer visiting and eat and drink there. It is a bit like the Bar. The Bar used to go to dinners. The military did, too. There are very great similarities between the military and the legal profession. Crown services. Highly disciplined. Heavy eaters and drinkers.

KIRBY J: You had to have a great will at University, too, to resist a lot of drink. Only a few of us did.

MR HANKS: Some are stronger than others, your Honour.

CALLINAN J: It is an unfortunate culture in many aspects of Australian life. I mean, you would have to be an anchorite monk not to know that it is associated with a great deal of sport in this country, unfortunately. It really is oppressive. And some forms of Australian life, regrettably, are irresistible.

MR HANKS: Might I ask of myself: what do I have to do as counsel? It is not what I am obliged to do or required to do, but what is it that I do customarily in the course of the practice of my career? That would be an analogy. I might perhaps ask that of anyone on the Bench: what do you have to do as a Judge? Members of the Court might say…

KIRBY J: We have to reach a decision and give some reasons and that is it, but we do a little bit more than that.

MR HANKS: Precisely.

KIRBY J: We sit here, we listen tediously to argument day after day and we are always polite…

McHUGH J: He is speaking for himself.

KIRBY J: On the listening I am certainly speaking for myself.

MR HANKS: And occasionally your Honour joins in as well, and that is very stimulating.

KIRBY J: You would not want us to be silent; there would be no fun in it.

MR HANKS: No, your Honour.

Born to ride

A Melbourne teenager’s obsession with trams got the better of him recently, and after spending a some time travelling around the city, observing the drivers and the operation of the trams, he decided to take one for a ride. He wasn’t selfish about it, he stopped to pick up passengers as any good tram driver should. However, he has been charged with endangering the lives of passengers, and the separate theft of another tram last month.

The young man was arrested after police cut the electricity to the tram, but he did manage to get in a quality 30-minute joyride in first. Police said the rogue was a nice lad and they hoped he would be able to pursue his dream of becoming a tram driver, if he stayed out of trouble. “He’s a good lad. I think his obsession just got the better of him,” Constable Barry Hill said.

Date and Dash

A Romanian Romeo has been caught by police after leaving a trail of sated appetites but empty wallets behind him. George Hodoroaba, 23, allegedly struck dozens of times in the town of Suceava in eastern Romania. His ruse was to invite women on a romantic dinner, order the best wines and tell his female guests to order whatever they wanted.

But as the meal drew to a close, he would excuse himself to make an important phone call and vanish — in three cases he even borrowed his date’s phone to make the call. He was eventually caught after a photofit image of his face was distributed to restaurant owners.

Five women made official complaints about Hodoroaba, but police believe the actual number of victims could be much greater. Hodoroaba faces two years in jail if convicted.

Way to blow an exam

Just days away from taking his final physical exam and admission to the police force, a 24-year-old Florida man decided to take a final fling on the wrong side of the law. He led police on a high-speed chase, that reached speeds up to 140 miles per hour off the Florida Turnpike.

He made it home in time to hide the motorbike in his bedroom, along with his Florida Highway Patrol (FHP) application form, and when police arrived he pretended to be washing his car. But he was foiled when his dog jumped up at the bedroom window, knocking the blind away, and the investigating officers saw the bike inside.

He was charged with three counts of aggravated fleeing, two counts of aggravated assault on a law enforcement officer and one count of reckless driving. And he was told by the FHP not to bother turning up for his physical — getting arrested is an automatic disqualifier.

Like this story? Read more:

QLS condemns actions of disgraced lawyer as ‘stain on the profession’

NSW proposes big justice reforms to target risk of reoffending

The legal budget breakdown 2017

Folklaw 13 May
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