Victoria’s Director of Public Prosecutions has urged the High Court to refuse Cardinal George Pell’s bid to appeal his conviction for child sexual abuse. Source: The Age.
Kerri Judd, QC, told the High Court there was no error in the Victorian Court of Appeal’s majority decision to uphold Cardinal Pell’s conviction and his legal team had failed to raise any important question of law in his application for special leave to appeal.
Ms Judd said that Court of Appeal Justice Mark Weinberg’s dissenting view that Pell had been wrongly convicted was not grounds, on its own, for the High Court to grant an appeal.
“The mere fact that Weinberg JA has taken a different view of the evidence to the majority does not justify intervention by the High Court,’’ the DPP argues in documents lodged yesterday with the High Court.
“The [special leave to appeal] identifies no error in the majority approach and no question of law for this court to resolve; it does no more than ask this court to substitute for the view taken by the majority and the jury a different view of the evidence."
Quoting from the majority Court of Appeal decision by Chief Justice Anne Ferguson and Court of Appeal President Chris Maxwell, Ms Judd urged the High Court to be “slow to substitute its own judgments about human behaviour for those made by a jury”.
Cardinal Pell was convicted in December of raping and sexually assaulting a former choirboy and his friend at St Patrick’s Cathedral in 1996 and 1997.
The cardinal is seeking to take his case to the High Court, arguing that justices Ferguson and Maxwell failed to properly weigh the testimony of the choirboy against evidence given by church figures who testified to the near impossibility of the offences taking place as described.
His lawyers told the High Court that Justice Weinberg, who in a lengthy dissenting judgment found that the jury should have had a reasonable doubt about the cardinal’s guilt and his convictions should be quashed, applied the “correct judicial method’’ in reviewing the evidence.
In her response, Ms Judd said the “unchallenged exculpatory evidence” referred to by Cardinal Pell’s legal team fell well short of an alibi.
The next step in the appeal process is likely to be a brief hearing and the question of special leave to appeal.
Cathedral workers back George Pell’s appeal application (The Australian)