magistrate calls it as it is

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    Magistrate abuses 'druggie' defendant
    By Rebecca DiGirolamo
    May 01, 2003

    AN Adelaide magistrate told an Aboriginal defendant she was a "druggie" who would "die in the gutter", before handing her a six-week suspended sentence for a crime that attracts a maximum $750 fine.


    Mr Frederick ... doesn't believe in "all that social worker clap" / File


    Michael Esmond Frederick, who presides at the Port Adelaide Magistrates Court, told 21-year-old Tashara Lee-Anne Were in January that he would "teach her a lesson".

    Minutes before handing down the sentence for soliciting for prostitution and breaching a bail condition, Mr Frederick told Were: "You're a druggie and you'll die in the gutter ... I don't believe in that social worker clap ... you can go to work.

    "Seven million of us do it whilst 14 million like you sit at home watching Days of Our Lives, smoking your crack pipe and using needles, and I'm sick of you sucking us dry. Little Johnnie taxes us with all sorts, and now with salt tax and maybe war tax.

    "We d!cks pay for your life. It's your choice to be a junkie and die in the gutter.

    "No one gives a sh!t, but you're going to kill that woman who is your mother, damn you to death."

    Court documents that detail the outburst also say that Were was "visibly shaken by the sentencing magistrate's comments".

    South Australian Attorney-General Michael Atkinson last night said while Mr Frederick's comments were "completely over-the-top remarks, expletives and vulgar expressions", he would not dismiss the magistrate, adding "there are many people in society who will cheer" the sentiment.

    Although Mr Frederick's remarks were not taken down on court transcript, they were tended in an affidavit by Were's solicitor and appeared on appeal before a Supreme Court judge who described the remarks as "so inappropriate, so abusive and so insensitive".

    Justice John Perry, quashed Were's sentence during an appeal hearing in his chambers on April 11, imposed a conviction without penalty and delivered a stinging criticism of Mr Frederick's comments. The remarks also forced high-level meetings last night among the most senior figures in the South Australian legal system, including Chief Magistrate Kelvyn John Prescott and Chief Justice John Doyle.

    Justice Perry said the comments were "corrosive" on the public confidence of the courts and the administration of justice.

    Mr Atkinson said Mr Frederick would be "firmly" advised "not to humiliate people before the court in this way again".

    "There are many people in society who will cheer Magistrate Frederick's remarks, so I don't entirely agree that it's corrosive, I think it's double-edged," Mr Atkinson said last night on ABC radio in Adelaide.

    "Nevertheless, the remarks are entirely inappropriate and I'll do what we can to ensure there is not a repeat."

    Mr Frederick, a partner with law firm Frederick, Templeton and Evans before being appointed a magistrate in 1987, has a history of strong remarks.

    Mr Atkinson said Mr Prescott and Justice Doyle could request Mr Frederick's dismissal.

    The Australian


 
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