Time and timing are crucial to Cardinal Pell’s appeal

News Weekly – National Civic Council

March 28, 2020; publication date April 4, 2020

By Peter Westmore

The hope is that the High Court justices will set upright a distortion of justice.

Cardinal George Pell’s appeal to the High Court took place on March 11 and 12. The case was heard by a Full Bench of the High Court, which includes all seven justices currently on the court.

Cardinal Pell was not present – he is confined in Barwon Prison, a high-security facility in Victoria.

He was appealing against a 2:1 majority verdict of the Victorian Court of Appeal of last August. It has taken over six months for this matter to reach the High Court of Australia. He was not directly appealing against the original jury verdict, but against the majority verdict of the Court of Appeal.

His case rested on two propositions:

1. The majority in the Court of Appeal erred in their assertion that the complainant was so credible that Cardinal Pell had to establish that the offending was impossible. In other words, that Cardinal Pell was required to prove his innocence, rather than the prosecution proving his guilt.

2. The majority of the Court of Appeal erred in finding that the jury verdicts were not unreasonable, in light of all the evidence contradicting it.

One day was given to Cardinal Pell’s barrister, Bret Walker SC, to put Cardinal Pell’s case. The second day was given to the Director of Public Prosecutions in Victoria, represented by Crown prosecutor Kerri Judd SC, to support the decision of the Court of Appeal.

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