by Mary W Maxwell, PhD, LLB
On March 11, 2015, Mr GH Schorel-Hlavka made this comment to Gumshoe News regarding my March 8 article “Will Martin Bryant’s Case Get a Turn-Around at the Adelaide Fringe?”:
“If Martin Bryant … was not mentally competent to instruct a lawyer [to plead guilty, in 1996] then an order for administration ought to have provided for the appointment of a Guardian who then could act in the best interest of Martin Bryant and if needed instruct a lawyer.”
I sincerely thank Schorel-Hlavka for that suggestion, which sounds perfectly reasonable to me.
The possibility of getting any action for Bryant appears to be low. Yes, there was a miscarriage of justice. Bryant’s continued incarceration is outrageous. I assume all lawyers and judges in Australia can see how simple the matter is.
But law and justice do not exist up there in the stratosphere. They are part of culture. Australian culture at this moment does not support the beautiful principles of law. And, as far as I can tell, the lawyers and judges all pick up the same cues from culture. They therefore are afraid to “stick out” by supporting high principles.
Mr Schorel-Hlavka believes that this is not what they should be doing. Yet, clearly, it is reality. So this is quite a dilemma! The editor of Gumshoenews (Dalia Mae) and myself are trying to tackle this unhealthy situation.
Speaking for myself, I can say that the amount of support one can get from Aussies on behalf of a badly-treated Aussie is pathetically low. (Bryant is not the only one). That’s something we can’t overcome by an intellectual appeal to righteousness!
The judge in the Bryant case, William Cox, was subsequently made Governor of Tasmania. I do not actually know who appoints vice-regals, but that person must have wanted to reward Cox for doing such a terrible thing. I may be wrong, and of course I hope I am wrong, but it “looks” like that. And looks matter.
If we really want to know who arranged for the harm to be done to Bryant, I say that it must have been “Murdoch.” (I am using the name roughly; I mean “the press in Australia.”) The very day of the Port Arthur event, media got involved in a way that could only mean they were playing a role in setting Bryant up.
When I was young (b 1947), I had the impression that the press reported what happened in society. I’m not sure when the great change developed, but nowadays the media not only are not reflecting what society spontaneously does, they seem to make society do this or that. They are creating us!
And how is that possible? Easy. Humans evolved biologically with a penchant for following the crowd. A child picks up culture and is very eager (subconsciously) to do what every one else is doing. The human ability to deviate and thus ‘stick out’ is quite constrained.
Trying Comedic Therapy?
As mentioned in the article to which Schorel-Hlavka commented, my show last week at the Adelaide Fringe offered a satire of Martin Bryant’s fate. Dalia Mae kindly traveled over from Melbourne to be the stand-up comic at this show.
She read from a “press release” that Martin had just been released from prison How so? Well, according to her, thirty law students at Flinders University had been taught, in their Criminal Procedure course, that a person who pleads guilty in a significant murder case should nevertheless be given a trial.
They saw that Martin Bryant had never been given a trial and that, despite being retarded, he was allowed to plead guilty (including the shooting of 19 people with one shot in the head to each, like a marksman, all with his non-dominant right hand).
The law students duly hopped a plane to Hobart and rocked up at Risdon Prison last Friday to tell the jailer that the state never had a case against Martin, and so he had to be let out, per the doctrine of habeas corpus.
Such is the nature of Dalia’s fertile mind that “The prison had been privatized and the man in charge – who had an IQ of 66, and was also left-handed – took the Flinders gang at their word and let Martin go free.”
Oh well, comedy is one thing, reality is another. Flinders students did not really do that and I rather doubt that they would. They should, though! University of Tasmania has a law school, too. Its students could do it without spending airfare.
It’s my belief that doing something makes it then appear to others that it can be done. Takes the fear away.
Allow me to put the above in perspective, from a personal point of view: The mother in me wants to see that a suffering man (Bryant) gets out of prison. The citizen in me wants to see that the rule of law – which is now in tatters – gets repaired. But most of all (harking back to the fact that Murdoch is creating culture) the human in me wants to see that culture gets created from the bottom up.
Why should it be done by pathetic (and themselves horribly controlled) men, like Our Father Who Art Not Yet in Heaven Rupert Murdoch?
Seems daft, perfectly daft.
Will you please fight off this trend? Come on, it’s easy.
— Mary W Maxwell has a law degree but is not a practicing solicitor. She would like to hear from persons who are pursuing justice for Martin Bryant. Email her: mary@ProsecutionForTreason.com. “Ta.”