What has been amusing me over recent months has been watching Cameron Slater, our rather pathetic and quite inept “journalist”, having legal issues. And financial issues from being involved in legal issues. I keep an eye on them for my amusement. It is like watching Charlie Chaplin doing some seriously funny silent pratfalls.
Apparently he hasn’t presented court required material in a timely manner in just about any court – from district courts to the Court of Appeal. I have heard that he has ignored court costs levied against him, ignored court orders to pay up, ignored the many bankruptcy notices and hearings, and tried to avoid process servers. Which is why he got served at his previous public appearance – just before being knocked out.
In short, he appears to be a fool walking towards disaster. At the rate that Cameron is going, the only real question is how soon he starts to discover how official assignee views hiding assets.
Which was why I wasn’t surprised that he also missed a deadline to appeal against the judgement in the High Court despite being given leave to do so.
But I was astonished when I heard that Slater or his lawyer filed an application for leave to present an appeal AFTER the deadline had passed. Instead of taking the cheapish legal shot granted by the High Court of simply making an appeal (any appeal) before some date in December, some incompetent legal dunderhead made the idiotic move of not filing with the Court of Appeal. Then they took the much harder step of belatedly attempting to get the Court of Appeal to allow them to appeal. Complete legal stupidity.
Anyway, that application for leave to appeal was heard yesterday in the Court of Appeal sitting in Wellington.
A report on RadioNZ indicates Slater’s legal team strategy.
Mr Slater argued disclosing his sources would subject them to unspecified threats from Mr Blomfield, saying he had fresh evidence to support this.
Ok, so they are arguing on the Evidence Act 2006, S68(2). Specifically paragraph a.
(2) A Judge of the High Court may order that subsection (1) is not to apply if satisfied by a party to a civil or criminal proceeding that, having regard to the issues to be determined in that proceeding, the public interest in the disclosure of evidence of the identity of the informant outweighs—
(a)any likely adverse effect of the disclosure on the informant or any other person; and
(b)the public interest in the communication of facts and opinion to the public by the news media and, accordingly also, in the ability of the news media to access sources of facts.
The judgement in the High Court (my paraphrasing for brevity) was that
Peter Aranyi had a summarised highlighting of the judgement, that is worth reading. But having read some of the posts from Cameron Slater targeting Matthew Blomfield which were in my view clearly defamatory and quite blatantly malicious falsehoods that went far beyond the purported ‘evidence’ in the posts, I wasn’t surprised at that judgement. I was only surprised that Judge Asher thought that Cameron Slater was a journalist. My respect for journalism plummeted further.
While I wasn’t in court in Wellington, from the journalists reports, it appears that Slater and his lawyer are only targeting the significance of any adverse effects on Slater’s “sources”. That does make me wonder who paid for the appeal, as filing court documents isn’t cheap, and why Slater was so concerned about that. But we’ll leave that for a journalist to nosey out…
So what was this fresh evidence put in front of the Court of Appeal judges?
But the three justices questioned whether such evidence would be admissible.
Huh? A lawyer put up fresh evidential material that might not be admissible in front of the Court of Appeal? What was was it? That is surely newsworthy? Is there more on this in the news from the courtroom?
Clearly not. Radio NZ’s piece was short, minimalistic and concise. Exactly what you’d expect from a voice only medium. What about the print media?
Well, Stuff has a interesting article about Cameron Slater’s actions. But it is almost a puff piece that leads with Cameron Slater bludging a free trip to Gallipoli. When the journalist finally got down to looking at the newsworthy legal issues.
One of his grounds is that the judge was wrong to find the sources would not be adversely affected if identified. One of them, Marc Spring – who made no secret of his identity – recently had a restraining order issued against him, at Blomfield’s request.
“The actions of the respondent [Blomfield] after delivery of Justice Asher’s judgment is a good indicator that sources are at risk here,” Slater told the Court of Appeal.
But Blomfield’s lawyer, Miles Beresford, told the three Court of Appeal judges that Spring had been sending text messages harassing Blomfield, and the restraining order did not prevent Spring appearing as a witness in the defamation case. It was not a vexatious proceeding and it would not apply to others.
Huh again? Slater’s lawyer is arguing that Matt Blomfield taking a defensive restraining order to prevent Marc Spring from trying to contact him puts Marc Spring at risk? If Marc Spring’s texts are anything like his emails to me about Blomfield, then in my opinion I’d think that Spring is the danger to others. Especially Matt Blomfield. Unsubstantiated smearing doesn’t even begin to describe the way he writes about Blomfield. Malicious and extreme gets somewhat closer. Wormtongue perhaps?
But despite the wrong-headed stupidity of Cameron’s lawyer of presenting this ‘evidence’ to the court, I can’t see why the Court of Appeal judges would think that was particularly inadmissible. I rather think that they’d just find it irrelevant and ignore it.
You have to remember the role of the Court of Appeal and what it does.
The Court of Appeal has a critical role in developing legal principle and maintaining consistency in the application of the law. It supervises through appeal the judgments of the High Court and ensures consistent application of the law in the High Court.
In other words, they aren’t there to litigate a court case. They are there to supervise the High Court (and sometimes District Courts). They are almost entirely concerned with the soundness of the decisions of lower courts and the conformance with the overall body of law in NZ. They are the quality control system.
Generally that means that you have to make a case before them based on the evidence that was presented to the lower court, including the evidence that was excluded, and the process followed in making the decision.
Consequently new evidence isn’t commonly presented to the Court of Appeal, which is why I was rather incredulous. It may be presented when questioning the judgement of including or excluding what was presented in the lower court because of the jury. But in this case, I was there at the High Court for the appeal. There was no jury and the high court judge heard everything. I can’t really see anything that was presented in court or in the public documents that wasn’t covered in the judgement.
What is presented to the Court of Appeal is arguments to refute parts of the judgment(s) of the High Court judge and/or jury. The intent is to show that the judgement was unsound based on the process and evidence presented in the lower court. In this case it was a High Court judge making a long and exhaustive ruling on an appeal from a lower court judgement and the appeal based upon a favourable reception to that appeal.
New evidence? It probably has a snowball’s chance in hell unless it conforms to the purposes that the Court of Appeal operates under. But judges of the Court of Appeal would usually just examine it against their guides and cast it aside as irrelevant during the process.
But I am still puzzled. To say evidence may not be admissible is bit unusual. It sure as hell doesn’t sound like some protective restraining order between participants in a defamation case would be inadmissible, just irrelevant. It does make me wonder what in the hell the possibly inadmissible fresh evidence was and why it wasn’t reported?
Now I might not expect a journalist to understand that curiousity. But I’d sure as hell expect a lawyer to understand it.
So who is that idiot of lawyer that Slater had at court?
And hours later, I’m still laughing. It turns out that Cameron Slater was representing himself! In the Court of Appeal! And he clearly has no idea about what the Court of Appeal’s role in the judiciary is. Despite being previously denied leave to appeal to them by the Court of Appeal back in 2011.
Oh dear, it appears that the idiot lawyer has an idiot for a client… Just watch the video on the stuff article. It is quite clear that he simply just doesn’t understand the process.
If there is one thing you can be sure about with Cameron Slater, it is that he cannot fail to screw up. He is a posturing disaster for all of those around him. In this case I suspect that he hasn’t read anything about the actual role of the Court of Appeal
I suspect that his clients and sources are probably going to be quite unhappy with him.
I also think that Slater brings blogging and journalists into disrepute. I have met good and effective journalists and I am a blogger who doesn’t tolerate the kind of crap that Slater has done. I want him gone from blogging. I presume most decent journalists want him gone from journalism.
I have met Matthew Blomfield once at the high court appeal, and I have talked to him a few times by phone or email when writing posts. He sounds and acts like a pretty typical entrepreneur on one of the inevitable downward parts of their cycle. I have met a few of them over the years.