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The Linguistically Handicapped and The Letter of the Law

The judge's incomprehensible prolonged predications, affecting a linguistically challenged persons capacity to receive justice. What a shambles!

Along with another student SRL today we observed a woman with limited command of English be compelled to conduct her case even though she was not prepared and capable of doing so.

A judge intent on getting the case off the court list was determined to accept that his conversation with the self represented woman was as one way traffic was meaningful. The woman had a capacity to speak which was more impressive than her capacity to understand.

The judge said "I'm going to hear the case on the evidence I've got", Please don't continue this conversation", "I have already ruled on an adjournment".

The judge was to hear the case on the literal interpretation of English. Unable to sense, or not wishing to, the inappropriateness of his expression when communicating with a person who is not fluent in English, he would speak in three minute or more long sentences which would challenge a Senior Counsel. The weight of injustice felt unbearable.

When he suggested the woman should seek leave, he was lucky she did not go on holidays. In that he continued to offer language which is court specific, it was surprising that the woman did not have a brain explosion which would have reflected her confusion. There was a lack of understanding by this judge that his words were not landing and the habit of the woman to phrase many of her pauses with "right" did not cause the judge to be distracted from his belief that he was communicating. Limiting his enunciation by holding his mouth was not good behaviour.

When the arguments about the admissibility of documents to be tendered in evidence was discussed, the judge and counsel for the other side took it upon themselves to discern what was appropriate. The definition between the linguistic and legal interface was fraught with injustice.

A judge can manifest his own untruths as a consequence of poor communication between a party and himself. Even judges can deceive them selves.

Having determined that the woman would need a translator when cross-examined, his apologies were not enough when the judge and counsel for the Applicant decided as to how the matter would be conducted. Oh yes, he did on occasions tell the woman as to how her destiny was being determined without minimal input from herself. What the evidence shall be was not really important, was it?

The judge's incomprehensible prolonged predications, affecting a linguistically challenged persons capacity to receive justice.

It is hard to imagine that a trial lasting five more days can only diminish only the woman's faith in the Family Law Court of Australia. If the court is intent on proving that justice can be blind, they have walked the talk today.

What is done for you, let it be done, what you must do, be sure you do it, as the wise person does today that what the fool will do in three days - Buddha

In the interest of justice

The following day the woman was cross examining the other party.

I think the judge did get the message. He in fact began interpreting for the women, the best that he could. Linguistically I was puzzled; I had great difficulty comprehending her, and was totally lost with many questions that were put to the other party who himself could not understand - it was agony.

The barrister for the other party was a concern also.

One of the issues that I found strange was that the judge commended the woman for doing such a great job - was he being sarcastic?

Imagine the courage it took

Imagine the courage it took to perservere against all the odds in unfamilar and intimidating circumstaces with the added challenge that your language is not the language of the forum in which you are forced to seek justice. And then to continue until the judge begins to understand!

I am not surprised at the complement - Judges are often sarcastic to Legal Professionals - but seldom to parties who are battling against the odds.

For me - Shared Parenting is a Reality - Maybe it can be for you too!
I sat in on this case earlier today with Verdad.

This is the second case in a week that I have sat in on where language has been major problem. The first was MEAD.

Two things stood out for me today.

One was the manner in which the Applicant's barrister questioned the SRL. While cross-examining the SRL, the Barrister often asked the witness multiple questions in one delivery.

As an observer, it was difficult to know which question the SRL was answering - especially given that the Barrister was trying to restrict her to a simple Yes or No answer.

I might add that the Barrister's tone to the SRL was somewhat inflammatory. The whole affair played out like some television legal drama.

Was this an LAT hearing I witnessed today? I forgot to ask. Perhaps Verdad can enlighten us.

The next thing that stood out was that His Honor did not intervene to pull the barrister into line. It wasn't exactly fair on the SLR.

The SLR was under significant pressure and started to lose her composure before the break.

Yet another chapter in the day of the Family Court.

In situations described above, is it permissable to request an interpreter.  With a very limited grasp of the English language the SRL would be at a great dissadvantage which no doubt the barrister was taking advantage of in the best interest of the client.
Interestingly, an interpreter was sitting next to her the entire time… doing nothing.

Which she did not make use of… even as a shield.

I think foreign born Australians are always at a disadvantage here. Because of the cultural differences (and bias) they always seem to lack credit.

It seems that if we don't understand where they're coming from, we view them and what they say with suspicion. Or is that just me?

Given the changing demographic environment in Australia, there might be an argument for a more culturally diverse pool of Justices and Magistrates from which to draw upon?

Questions of supply and demand arise.

But how would that work? For example, could foreign born Chinese Australian litigants request a Chinese Australian Justice to hear their case? Hmmm?

A while ago, before a federal magistrate, there was a Chinese SRL woman with an interpreter. I observed that this Chinese SRL made very little use of her interpreter. This frustrated the magistrate.

Before that, a Turkish SRL, made full use of his translator.

Translators are there to be used and to your advantage - why would you not use them?

Perhaps the individual thinks this will result in leniency, struggling with the language?

I think a translator a much better call.

When immersed in the legal world, one needs as much economy of language as possible. Unfortunately there is no interpretor for English speakers who cannot be brief.

One reason this site recommends going through toastmasters if at all possible.

Junior Executive of SRL-Resources

Executive Member of SRL-Resources, the Family Law People on this site (Look for the Avatars). Be mindful what you post in public areas. 
Breaking news on the case of yesterday. Watts J. finally allowed the woman to tender documents he told her she could tender later. That was four hearing days back. One of the documents was a reply to an affidavit. He indicated that the case may run an extra day to accommodate this evidence. There are possibly ten documents he has not incorporated into evidence.
Now the case will have to be restructured to have the evidence in the documents tested.
Why the judge did not believe the woman that she was not capable would be only understood by him if he wanted to understand.
He was so intent on pushing the case that he allowed his emotions to interfere with his duty of care to the woman.
Monaro may have been in the court on day one when she was endeavouring to tender the documents.
Grounds for a mis-trial radiated in the court this afternoon. The judge has constantly deceived himself about his capacity to communicate with the woman. He has titillated her in respect of her capacity to understand.
A fair outcome would be for the judge to start the case again. Provide transcripts to both sides and pass it on to another judge. Has he the courage to do that?

What is done for you, let it be done, what you must do, be sure you do it, as the wise person does today that what the fool will do in three days - Buddha
so very true - i told you the judge was asleep, cases like this get me so emotional i have to hold myself back :thumbs:

 i am a follower of the learned magistrate , to my knowledge Dr.Tom decided it - later to be overturned by three family court female judges, and is now before this judge, so has mr brown stated,

the out come will be interesting indeed.

Last edit: by monaro

[Monaro…it was a pleasure meeting you today at the Family court. Thank you for sharing your experiences with me]

I arrived at the Family Court this afternoon at 4pm in an effort to catch a half hour or so of this matter.

Upon arrival I found two upset and emotional SRL members and a distraught Respondent Mother - on the wrong side of a Watts J decision.

It seems that while the Respondent has leave to file her written submission by Monday, the dye has been cast.

The Respondent Mother will most likely not see her child for at least 8 weeks ( …a Dr. Richard Gardner HAP styled intervention). The Applicant Father has 'won' sole residency.

For those of us who watched this matter unfold over the last 4 days, it seemed that we had witnessed an injustice occurr here.

For a start, a considerable lack of procedural fairness afforded  to the Mother by Watts J throughout the trial.

Before the trial started, the Respondent Mother was denied Legal Aid funding and therefore any chance of legal representation - a determination made by Legal Aid based solely on the (untested) Expert Witness Report provided to them by the Applicant Father.

I my mind, this was a woman who did not have the capacity of run her own case effectively. She can barely comprehend the English language.

That does sit well with me at all.

Yet another change in the life of this little girl - effective from today.

Her Mother will not be picking up her this evening. Her Father will be.

It was heartbreaking to hear the Mother relay this message to her child through a third party at approximately 5:34pm.

"Tell her, Mummy is busy".

In her submission for Monday, the Mother now has to set the grounds for the basis of an Appeal - the second.

This will take nothing short of a miracle. I wish her the best of luck.

I wish her daughter happiness, joy and a fulfilling life.

No doubt, Verdad will fill you in on the rest….

Last edit: by 4mydaughter


Elusive Justice

The importance of communicating in the court regardless of the language is very critical. Today I have a sense that it is not acceptable to not be fluent in Court English. I feel that is un-Australian to not give another person a fair-go. Monaro, 4mydaughter and I have taken an interest in this case and there is a lot to learn. Following a case through every phase of it's procession through the court is a teaching without equal. Being able to share the observations has a complementing component.

Being able to argue a case in the Family Court is not easy, even for the more articulate. Some barristers make it look hard in contrast to others. When a person has  a linguistic handicap and is confronted by someone who has sold two houses to purchase a child he fathered, and to exclude the mother to minimal 2 days per fortnight it is not surprising to see an outcome that defies justice. The callousness with which a Family Law judge can destroy someone is only appreciated when observed. She, now suspended, in a life without reason, is dumbstruck by the events which cascaded down upon her like a tsunami.

It is all about what is written on the bits of paper that judges are attached to a dependent upon. Family Reports are centre pieces in these cases as the judges are not secure enough to go against the supposed professionalism of a supposed fallible expert. This is not the first time I have seen this. When the psychiatrist cannot communicate with the person they are meant to be interviewing then the scene is set for a distorted report. Does the report writer actually interview the person or the interpreter. When the psychiartrist and the judge are linguistically disabled and unable to properly communicate with a person who is unable to put logical concepts into a language the chaos zone has been entered.

In essence, if the Family Report does not favour one, it is an indication that one is guilty and has to prove one's innocence. So much for equality before the Law. When someone writes a report, their occupation of the witness box becomes a justification of their intial conclusions. To change their conclusions in the witness stand, if todays case is an example, would possibly take an earthquake. Their credibility, that is their earning capacity as apparatachiaks of the court are reliant upon their defiance of new evidence. That is conclusion that can be sustained by what was evidenced in court today. If actions speak louder than words the evidence is defintive. If one can't advocte one's case one is vulnerable. Only good preparation an an understanding of the legal processes can keep one bouyant.

The grounds for a mis-trial are glaringly evident in the way the proceedings occurred over the six days. There needs to be a test of the persons representing them selves to ensure they are liguistically competent enough. As the judge tried to repair the ommissions he effected when overcome by his own frustrations, whilst trying to cover his tracks by titillating the SRL, he did not advance the cause of natural justice.

At the end of the day to observe the anguish of a woman alone in Australia being denied access to her child, her reason to be, one questions the way our Family Court functions. The bob-a-job legal industry go home and leave collateral damage in their wake. Place the collaterall damage in a drawer, close it, celebrate with "friends" and roll home to return the next day to siphon from the pockets of those who have no realvalue of what two houses could do to provide an education and a good life for a child. Selling those houses has embittered the father. The residual consequences in such a material mind will contaminate his relationship with the child. His lack of empathy for the woman who mothered the child is representative of his psychological inadequacies. It might have been cheaper to buy a child on the open market. The allegations about his behaviour in association with the child will not be diminished by his wealth.

As can be appreciated, seeing a mother lose her child to an unjust process is not easily accepted. An insight into how our indigenous women felt when their children were taken away is not the best way to end a day. Unfortunately these "case hardened" legal industry workers. Even as an observer it is challenging to not be emotionally affected by the cases such as the one observed over four of it's six days.

After six days she did not receive a response understandable to her to the question of "what is evidence".

When she expressed that she did not know how to run her case the judges need to extinguish the case from his his list was paramount to giving her natural justice. The husband had sabotaged her legal aid representation

The need to reform the court is more than necesary, it is an imperative.

What is done for you, let it be done, what you must do, be sure you do it, as the wise person does today that what the fool will do in three days - Buddha
My fellow SRL'S i am lost for words, verdad and 4mydaughter i cannot ad to this other than the fact that there was another hearing that i attended, very similar circumstances to these - the children were residing with the father, the mother's application asked for the children to be returned to her.

 The mother had legal aid who supplied her a lawyer along with a barrister, the respondent father had run out of money and had to self represent, there was an ICL appointed and the family report ordered, The family consultant was subpoenaed. In this hearing both the ICL and the family consultant requested that the children should remain with the father as was the writing of the family report, the father on the other hand had little or no knowledge of the court system, he believed that all he needed was the truth.

The judge in this instance showed bias and used her powers immorally and illegally, the father was totally lost he was subject to four and a half days of gruelling interrogations from both the judge and barrister, crushing the fathers will and his faith in justice. The venerability of the father was clearly evident, the presiding judge made no attempt to assist him in any way, the father of European background struggled with all aspects of the process to the point of dis pare.

The judges verdict was decided it was stated, i think the term today used is extreme narcissism (alienation the same as the above mentioned case ) existing orders were dismissed and all contact between the father and his children will cease, the father broke down crying, heart breaking for me as i knew the father quite well, he did not see his children for over one year,

tonight my thoughts are with the mother, done over by an unjust system that only recognises the game players it gives berth to

true justice lies in heaven and for those that judge - will be judged and sentenced accordingly.

Lessons to be learned


As the day proceeded it became evident that evidence was secondary to the incestous determination that those abiding in the "legal industry" manifest.

There is a need to penetrate the inner sanctum of those conditioned to act in accordance with their un-illuminated world. The fact that an ICL has not been beyond a tick free zone, 10 kms from metro Sydney, does not reflect well upon those who give illuminated opinions in our courts. The incestousness as the Family Law industry does excite when they confer upon the destiny of others from such a limited life experience.

What has been observed yesterday is the might of money. A cautionary tale could be, that if one cannot counter financial power with a creative strategy, then moments of reflection are essential. Mouth-pieces may be bought, they are like those attracted to a honey pot. They do not have a desire from within as exhibeted by the couarageous lady we have been moved by today. Her exclamation that "I will fight on" to my mind was exceptional. Having been done over by an unconciousious court, she rallied to her own cause.

Knowing how the Family Court is nuanced is an absorbing experience. How to act so as to titillate the court is possibly more significant than any Act or Rule ever written.  As we all interact, judges are no more than those who have convinced themselves that they have a power beyond themselves. Yes they can create orders, yet, those odrers are only givn the weight by people commensurate with a willingness to be law abiding. Beyond their jurisdiction they are impotent. The relativity of their actions as illusionary as they are, are only substantiated by law abiding persons.

Let us rejoice and feel for the courage of this woman who has tonight returned to childless home whose walls vibrate with childish laughter. As with many others she experienced the dictates of the Family Court, may she greet tommorrow and the days beyond. When another person takes one's loved child, how does it feel?  It is challenging to say I understand when one has had no equivalent experience. As my heart weeps, I will never know a feeling with no substance, no contact for three months with a child who has come through one, a persons reason to be.

May she find comfort somewhere.

What is done for you, let it be done, what you must do, be sure you do it, as the wise person does today that what the fool will do in three days - Buddha
This puzzles me would it be right to say that a fair and just magistrate such as Dr .Tom. whom in inference presided towards the father in this case prior, also got it wrong ?

monaro said
This puzzles me would it be right to say that a fair and just magistrate such as Dr .Tom. whom in inference presided towards the father in this case prior, also got it wrong ?

My friend, not entirely certain what you are suggesting here. Can you elaborate?

Also, who is Dr Tom? Is Watts J's christian name Tom?

Or was Dr Tom the Magistrate in the first instance (and had his decision overturned on Appeal?)

Dr.Tom Altobelli is a federal magistrate, i have nothing but praise for him - that is why the puzzle is not fitting in place.
please look up 'judicial officer's worthy of mention'
you wil find all that you require,


I think Justice Watts probably arrived at that right decision.

What I don't agree with is the way it went down.

If the Mother has knowingly made up these allegations then she poses a serious risk to the Child - no doubt about it.

I thought she lacked 'credit'. But then again, the Mother was practically mauled by the Father's barrister. Justice Watts should have stepped in.

I ask myself, "how would I come across in the witness box under that kind of attack?"

Verdad - was this an LAT? Sure didn't seem like it.

So many of the members are able to attend court as observers has anyone toyed with the idea of laminating a small card with the web address of the Family Law Web Guide and how to access SLR-R ???

There could be many advantages to receiving advice from a first person aspect, I know many situations you see are in process but it could just be that little understanding before the next day that may help enough to reduce the pain people go through.

Just thinking is all
hello D4E,

that is a great idea, i know of SRL exec's that allready do this - it would be good for members who attend the courts to pitch in also, pay it foward

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