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Prison Action and Reform Tasmania and JA | 29.07.2005 06:08 | Analysis | Repression | World

Justice Action and Prison Action & Reform are not satisfied with the review and will present an independent report to Parliament in August, based upon interviews with prisoners, prison staff and concerned community members.

Portrait: 3/4/1675 John Bunyan, Vanity Fair
Portrait: 3/4/1675 John Bunyan, Vanity Fair

Australia: Tas: Community based criminal justice organisation Justice Action and prison lobby group Prison Action & Reform express disappointment with the recent findings of a government report by former Tasmanian Police Assistant Commissioner Luppo Prins into the recent siege at Risdon Prison in Tasmania.

Spokespersons Caroline Dean and Brett Collins agree the review did nothing to understand the underlying issues that caused the incident nor progress prison reform.

"There was no mention of prisoners and why they felt it necessary to take such drastic action to bring national attention to the inadequate conditions and systemic cultural problems within the Tasmanian prison system", Caroline Dean said. "The Attorney has admitted this situation could reoccur and yet she has done nothing to understand the circumstances surrounding the event. It is clear the department has no real interest in changing the culture of the prison despite their rhetoric."

The Attorney General announced an "...independent review of the events contributing to the hostage incident at Risdon Prison..." on 18 May 2005.

Brett Collins and Caroline Dean said the report was not independent and only focused on bureaucratic and procedural security matters, excluding facts embarrassing to the Government.

Justice Action and Prison Action & Reform are not satisfied with the review and will present an independent report to Parliament in August, based upon interviews with prisoners, prison staff and concerned community members.


Caroline Dean 0439 473 938
Vickie Douglas 0403 401 414

Brett Collins 02 9660-9111 0438 705 003

Tasmanian Legal Watchdog
By Tom E Trustrum posted 29 July 05

To Her Majesty the Queen and Tasmania's DPP Ellis

A copy of this letter is being forwarded to Her Majesty the Queen in London, UK, via Alastair Goodlad, British High Commission in Canberra.

Copies are also being sent to the individuals and organizations.

This letter deals mainly with your own conduct and statements in the legal proceedings which have been -- and are being -- pursued against me by Tasmania's Director of Public Prosecutions Mr TJ Ellis; ostensibly 'on behalf of Her Majesty the Queen'.

Ellis is a Tasmanian-raised solicitor and former member of the Law Society of Tasmania like yourself.

I am a British subject presently residing in Tasmania. I do not believe that the Queen knows anything of Ellis's activities in Tasmania reputedly in her name; and my intention now is to provide Her Majesty with complete details over the weeks to come.

This first letter focuses upon your own role in extensively assisting Ellis -- whether that be by accident or design.

1) On 1 September 2003, you sentenced me to three months imprisonment for contempt of court, on charges brought by Tasmania's DDP Ellis ' on behalf of Her Majesty the Queen'.

2) You suspended that sentence for three years on the proviso that I ceased making allegations about Ellis and certain of his Law Society cohorts. However you imposed no restriction on Ellis, who continued his campaign of psychopathic harassment.

3) In February this year, Ellis launched three new --and 'separate' -- actions against me within a two week, period; each reputedly 'on behalf of Her Majesty the Queen'.

4) The first action was seeking my imprisonment for alleged breach of your suspended sentence In September 2003 -- with which demand you obliged him ( I was released from Tasmania's infamous maximum-security prison a few days ago).

5. The second action was seeking another trial and imprisonment for what he and or you called 'fresh' allegations (thus before you jailed me for the first breach on 22 March this year, he was already arranging for you to jail me for a 'fresh' breach when I was released!)

6) You appeared - to me - to throw yourself most enthusiastically into meeting Ellis's demands; which may be exemplified by your unconventional comments to be quoted from transcripts, below.

7) Ellis's third plan 'on behalf of Her Majesty the Queen' was to sue me for criminal defamation for Mr William Cox, Tasmania's former Chief Justice - now Governor.

(Another judge, Mr Crawford, explained at an earlier hearing that if Mr Cox sued me himself, in a civil case, he would have to pay. But if Ellis sued me for criminal defamation, the public would have to pay?).

The result of Ellis's blitz on new actions ' on behalf of Her Majesty the Queen' in February this year were that:

a) you jailed me for three months, on 22 March

b) you began quote 'fresh' proceedings against me for contempt of court -- with the presumed intention of jailing me again -- before I got to prison the first time!

c) and in relation to the Governor Cox you said: "Where that goes, how long it takes and where it travels is a matter for the DPP's office and you."

8) To begin the 'fresh' proceedings for Ellis it was necessary -- you decided -- to bring me in handcuffs from jail on two occasions, to expedite the case for your former Law Society colleague.

9) As the transcripts of the three hearings, on 22 March ( the day you jailed me) then 4 May followed by 15 June, total more than 150 pages, this letter does not attempt to do any more than sketch-in the 'flavour' of your comments during those hearings.

10) Example -- in discussing 'convenient dates' for Ellis to have me brought back to court, handcuffed, from prison, you said to him on one occasion (transcript 4 May 2005, page 36, para 40):

Slicer (sniggering): " It gives him a day out".

11) My main concerns regarding my forced appearances in court from jail, were expressed at the hearings as follows:

a) there were NO FACILITIES in Risdon prison (word processors, copiers, etc) for preparing legal documents -- which you told me to, quote "Write them - by hand".

b) The Legal Aid Commission of Tasmania had refused to provide assistance 'unless I pleaded guilty'.

c) You were determined to push ahead with the case for Ellis -- whether I had a lawyer or not..

12) At the hearing on 4 May (transcript page 4 of 38) you said to the Legal Aid representative, Ms Mainwaring:

Slicer: Your answer is that at this stage the Legal Aid commission will not provide assistance to him?"

Mainwaring: "That's correct. At this stage' adding, "unless he pleads guilty."

13) Substantial segments of the first two hearings were devoted to my asking you to clarify whether the proceedings being brought by Ellis were civil or criminal?

Your long and evasive answers mostly created more confusion than clarification e.g (transcript 4 May 2005, page 33 of 38, para 35):

Slicer: 'Well, it sort of IS -- and sort of isn't. You don't get a jury."

14) After further attempts by me to make sense from your replies you told me (transcripts page 33, para 45) referring to Ellis's 'fresh' charges:

"At the end of the line, this one COULD be a gaol sentence. So when I say it's not criminal, it's sort of kind of like it isn't -- but it's sort of kind of like it IS, okay?"

15) During the 4 May 2005 hearing I also said to you (transcript page 13, para 30): "the big question is this, Sir. The documents which Ellis served on me" (prior to my being jailed on 22 March) "were headed Criminal Code?"

Slicer: " I can tell you about that. In terms of the Criminal Code, if I take evidence on oath and you admit that you WROTE them, your answer can be used in civil proceedings."

"But I'm also empowered to give you a CERTIFICATE -- so they can't be used against you in criminal proceedings. We solve the problem here -- and protect you somewhere else."

16) On the basis of your explanation regarding quote 'protection' at the hearing on 4 May 2005, I then told you which documents I had written.

However when I reminded you of your explanation regarding certificates at the following hearing, you replied (transcript 15 June 2005, page 5, para 10)

Slicer: "No -- you said you didn't want them. Didn't need them."

Trustrum: "Well, if I gave that impression I misled you sir. Because I wouldn't have made those admissions without them."

17) In response to your insistence that I defend myself without legal aid or advice, I several times asked, you during the three hearings while I was in prison what was your reason for all the haste -- and one of your typical replies was (transcript 15 June 2005, page 10, para 30).

Slicer: "Okay. Then let me cut to the chase. When are you due out?"

Trustrum: "Next Tuesday."

Slicer: "I don't HAVE to let you out. But what I don't want to happen is that this thing just wanders and meanders along -- and goes here, there and everywhere -- so that we're still having this discussion in six months."

18) Therefore despite your efforts to fog the real nature of the charges and to force me to answer Ellis's allegations without legal representation (while I was still in JAIL) the real situation was:

Slicer: "At the end of the line, this one COULD be a jail sentence". (Transcript 4 May 2005, page 33, para 45)

19) For these reasons I am completely satisfied that Her Majesty the Queen will now wish to know what is being done by judges and officers of the court in distant Tasmania -- 'on her behalf; where there is unlimited money to 'hunt down' critics of its justice system; but no money at all to legally represent them (unless they plead guilty)!

20) I remind you (though you much prefer to forget it) that these entire hostilities began -- and the Legal Watchdog was established -- in 2001, after Tasmania's DPP Ellis had me arrested and committed for trial for allegedly stalking Devonport solicitor Mr Leon Wootton of the law-firm Levis Stace & Cooper.

( I had paid Wootton $26, 000 deposit on a property, but he never completed the conveyance).

21) It was later discovered that the police officer DPP Ellis had used to ransack my home for Levis Stace & Cooper documents and arrest me, was a new detective-constable, Michael Aaron Ashwood.

22) Ashwood had just joined Tasmania Police, after resigning his job as a solicitor and member of the Law Society of Tasmania because the law-firm he had been working for was under investigation for robbing clients of about $4-million.

23) That firm was Levis Stace & Cooper.

24) Ellis's charges against me were obviously fraudulent and he dropped the case some months later, without explanation.

25) I noted that while you sentenced me to three months in Tasmania's Maximum Security jail, the Levis Stace & Cooper partner who robbed clients of $4-Million was relaxing at the 'farm' without bars, at New Norfolk.

That is why Her Majesty the Queen needs to know what Tasmania's DPP has been doing -- ' on her behalf'.

Yours faithfully
Tom E Trustrum
Tasmania's Legal Watchdog

At a hearing on 5 July 2005 Mr Trustrum asked judge Slicer for an adjournment as the Legal Aid Commission of Tasmania had not acknowledge his written application.

Mr Slicer said: " I am going ahead with the case on 5 September whether you've got Legal Aid or not. Your Legal Aid is not my problem."

THE AGE: Scutt fires farewell salvo
By Andrew Darby, Hobart 28 October 2004

Barrister and author Dr Jocelynne A Scutt has ended a troubled term as Tasmania's first anti-discrimination commissioner with a sweeping rebuke the state's legal institutions.

Not even the state's Supreme Court escaped the broadside that extended to lawyers, TJ Ellis the Director of Public Prosecutions, the Ombudsman and the Justice department.

Dr Scutt said that attempts were made to destablise her office right from the start and she had been bullied and coerced. Support in the job was denied her, as was natural justice and duty of care.

She had considered instituting proceedings for defamation, false imprisonment, abuse of process, contempt of court and victimisation -- but she said such steps would have required confidence in Tasmania's justice system.

In her dealings with Tasmania's Supreme Court, she said she had been denied procedural fairness. 'In my extensive experience, I have never encountered such an approach, outside Tasmania".

She said that only in Tasmania could DPP Ellis also act as a solicitor in civil matters; meaning he could appear in anti-discrimination cases.

She said a number of Tasmanian lawyers habitually used abusive and unprofessional language when talking to her and her staff. One member of the Law Society of Tasmania sent her correspondence containing pornography and a death threat. She had to obtain police protection.

Portrait: 3/4/1675 John Bunyan, Vanity Fair

On this day in 1675 John Bunyan went to prison for the third time, convicted of preaching his Baptist faith without a license. In over twelve years of confinement Bunyan wrote numerous books and pamphlets, including Part I of A Pilgrim's Progress. It sold 100,000 copies in his lifetime, and is still reported to be the most sold book in the world, next to the Bible.



'A Nice Day Out' From Risdon Prison

(Prisoner Trustrum had noted on tv on several occasion after being jailed that prisoners and terrorists in Third World countries are often transported in small modern coachers. But in will obviously be many years before the Tasmanian government can afford the luxury Spirit of Tasmania Three ferry - which sails between Sydney and Tasmania mostly empty - and a small coach for Risdon's 500 prisoners.)


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