Home / Judge Marcus Einfeld Cannot Tell a Lie

Judge Marcus Einfeld Cannot Tell a Lie

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Columnist Jimmy Breslin once asked why, in a democracy, everyone should have to rise when a judge enters a courtroom. Notwithstanding that this nation was founded not as a democracy but as a republic, one must always keep in mind, when talking about judges that we stand for them, because as we all know, all judges are honorable, incorruptible, and honest.

In Friday’s issue of The Australian, a national newspaper Down Under, the subhead for an op-ed was, “Courts have to depend on lawyers being honest in order for the courts to function properly writes Ysaiah Ross.” No problemo! Which brings me to Australian Judge Marcus Einfeld.

Einfeld, a former Federal Court judge who is “an Officer of the Order of Australia and was voted a Living National Treasure,” has in recent years made a profession of lecturing public officials on honesty and ethics. In January, Judge Einfeld’s Lexus was photographed speeding, and incurred a ticket for 77  Australian dollars ($66 U.S.).

Judge Einfeld insisted to Sydney’s Downing Centre Local Court that he was not the driver at the time; he’d lent his car to a lady friend, visiting American professor Teresa Brennan. Professor Brennan was hunted down, and found to have died in February 2003, almost three years before she had gone speeding in the judge’s car. Now, that’s one complicated girlfriend.

When the little matter of Prof. Brennan’s being dead was brought up to Judge Einfeld, he had a ready answer: No, no, no, not that dead American Prof. Teresa Brennan, it was a different dead American Prof. Teresa Brennan!

The good judge insisted that his dead American Prof. Teresa Brennan was alive long enough to go speeding in his car, but died shortly thereafter. (From grief over the ticket? Out of shame for having besmirched the ethical jurist and Living National Treasure’s driving record? Due to guilt over having dragged the first dead American Prof. Teresa Brennan’s name through the mud?)

In 1992, I published a wonderful short story, “Morning in Bond Court,” in my since long-defunct magazine, A Different Drummer. The story, which perfectly balances cynicism, wry humor, and poignancy, by retired Cook County cop Paul Pekin, is based on Paul’s experiences on “the job.”

The narrator is a Cook County cop who spends a day taking various small fry back and forth from the jail to the courthouse for bond hearings. One such small-timer is a “young black man, greasy upright hair. He stands before the bench, hands behind his back. Maybe he thinks he still has the cuffs on….

“The young man with the ugly hair is charged with stealing eighteen packages of spark plugs from an auto supply shop. Even worse, he failed to appear at his last court date, failed to appear at the date before it, failed to …

“‘I can explain all that. They told me courtroom B and I went there and they said it was someplace else …’

“‘You’re saying you went to the wrong courtroom?’

“‘Six times?’

“Only the young man with the ugly hair fails to be amused. He is led away, frowning. Five thousand dollars bond. That’s a lot of spark plugs.

“Next, we get a redheaded guy with no teeth. Charged with battery.

“‘It’s all her fault, your honor. She makes me go with her to her sister’s, it’s about the money they got for the car, and this guy her sister sold it to gets arrested and his old lady wants her purse back, and that’s when it turns out she’s the one with the …’

“‘You seem to hang out with complicated people,’ the judge says.

“Yes sir, I certainly do.”

“‘Well, you hang around with complicated people, you get complicated results.’

“Bond is twelve hundred dollars and the redhead is taken away.”

Back in Australia, Judge Marcus Einfeld hangs around with complicated people, and gets complicated results. In the meantime, in his scorched earth campaign to beat a 77 dollar traffic ticket, Judge Einfeld is now up to four different stories, with no end in sight.

Legal observers in Australia are concerned that the Judge’s travails might tarnish the reputation of the judiciary. I have unshakable faith, however, in the good Judge’s ability to uphold traditional standards of judicial ethics and honesty.

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About Nicholas Stix

  • This column was written by “Alan Smithee.”

  • pink angel

    HAVE YOU SEEN THIS TODAY? The source of the revelation! It is in THE AUSTRALIAN newspaper. Quoted below: “The mind googles
    THE DIARY Amanda Meade August 17, 2006

    JOURNALISTS have been criticised at times for using the Google search engine for research. But The Daily Telegraph’s Michael Beach hit the jackpot when he decided on a hunch to check a name mentioned in a court last week. What he found resulted in the headline “The respected judge, the dead professor and a speeding fine” and a serious headache for former justice Marcus Richard Einfeld. Tele court reporter Viva Goldner had filed a story on Einfeld’s court appearance to defend a parking fine. When Beach, who works on the backbench, got the copy he typed the name of Australian-born Florida professor Teresa Brennan into Google and discovered she had died in February 2003. Goldner then pursued Einfeld for an explanation as to why he had claimed Brennan was driving his car when he was caught speeding. If Beach had not done that search, the story may have died.”
    Found at theaustraliannews.com.au

  • Wow! Thanks for the heads-up. The good judge just doesn’t think in terms of the New Media world.

  • pink angel

    Newspaper article,
    “Einfeld triggers call to close offshore loophole”
    (The Australian, p25 Business Section August 18, 2006)
    It reads that “230,507 speeding fines and parking tickets were transfered to other people through statutory declarations in 2004-2005.”
    It calls for the Government to make “changes, to discourage people from avoiding traffic fines by falsely blaming foreigners.”
    State Audit Office says, more than “$544million in fines remained unrecoverable.”
    “The State Debt Recovery Office said anyone who used a false declaration to avoid a penalty would be investigated.”
    “Some lawyers have been abusing statutory declarations.”

  • Thanks again, Angel!

  • another angel

    Media is still going… smh.com.au
    Any more news from journalist Michael Beach?

  • Thanks for the link, another angel. Nothing showed up under his name just now at google news, but this is the Australian version of a media feeding frenzy (i.e., much more subdued than it would be here), and lot of folks are reporting on the good judge.

  • another angel

    Put yourself on Goggle Alert (add the word ‘speeding’), which works extremely well for SMH (SydneyMorningHerald) but a few from The Australian and Daily Telegraph seem to slip through unnoticed, so use ‘breaking news’.
    He is a well-known International VIP, most especially in the USA so many are interested to see where this road goes?

    Another media story being worked is:
    “Einfeld-led company collapses in debt
    A charitable company headed by Marcus Einfeld, the former Federal Court judge, has collapsed, leaving the Government’s overseas aid program, AusAID, thousands of dollars out of pocket.”
    Most people too nervous to speak out. So best I shut up too.

  • Most people too nervous to speak out. So best I shut up too.

    Apropos of that, this is not the article (or even the title) I originally submitted here and published unchanged elsewhere. But the censors wouldn’t permit it, and so I called it an “Alan Smithee” production.

    The Judge Who Couldn’t Stop Lying

  • pink angel

    The international audience that is following this story on TV, newspapers and on the heated talk-back radio shows, has the dream that justice will be administered on a level playing-field.

    It is definitely not a personal matter, but one where a top person in the land, whose legal responsibility has been administering judgement by interpretting legislation, appears to avoid this legislation by falsifying evidence, thus unbecoming to his persona.

    The law has been strongly challenged here and it will be a sad day if the matter becomes invisible. Thank you for airing it, and thank “Alan Smithee” for lending his verbal cloak.

  • pink angel

    Just when I could hear the fat lady warming up for next week’s burst of song, The Australian unearths unbelievable information, see below. Wonder if his speaker’s fee through Saxton’s Agency will reduce from $15,000 a gig? His judicial pension will stay the same, at well over $100,000/pa. So there goes the two titles he has been using incorrectly, “Honorable Justice” and “Doctor”.

    “Einfeld PhD ‘is not worth the paper’ Chris Merritt, Legal affairs editor August 19, 2006

    “FORMER judge Marcus Einfeld obtained a PhD degree from a university that has been debunked in the US Congress as a ‘diploma mill’.
    “Pacific Western University, which awarded one of the two doctorates claimed by Mr Einfeld, was investigated by the USGovernment Accountability Office and named in Congress in 2004 for handing out doctorates for the flat fee of $US2595 ($3413).

    “The other doctorate is from the Century University in Albuquerque, New Mexico, which is not accredited with the relevant American legal bodies.”
    More: theaustralian.news.com.au

  • mark

    “Einfeld … has in recent years made a profession of lecturing public officials on honesty and ethics.”

    Indeed he has, and I had the privilege of listening to his deep insights into human nature at one such lecture. As a trainee solicitor (completing ‘articles’) I attended a briefing by Einfeld in relation to a particularly controversial policy being implemented by the Australian government. As far as I could work out, at the base of Einfeld’s philosophy (for public consumption, and to beat the then-government around the head), was his statement during the talk that ‘everyone is good’.

    For several years I used to joke in an exasperated kind of way about this philosophy of Einfeld’s, and the possible policy results it might produce. I was amused to realise recently he probably picked it up from the course primer for one of his high-quality PhDs.

    I hope he runs the ‘everyone is good’ defence if he goes to trial.

  • Today the Einfeld team submitted that he had prostate cancer, depression and suicidal thoughts as reasons for him not being given a jail sentence.

    Could those afflictions be someone else’s?

  • STM

    The judge hearing the case ordered today during sentencing submissions in a Sydney court that Mr Einfeld stand in the dock – like any other prisoner.

    There was a request by his legal team that Einfeld be allowed to sit with his lawyers in the body of the court.

    It was denied and when Einfeld – a former federal court judge, remember, who has himself heard countless cases – remained seated, he was ordered by Justice James to move into the dock.

    Einfeld, 69, pleaded guilty last year to one charge of perjury and one of perverting the course of justice.

    The Crown prosecutor, Wayne Roser SC, also referred to Einfeld as “the prisoner” during the sentencing submissions and has asked for a custodial sentence.

    He said: “The only appropriate penalty (for lying to a court in this way) is a custodial sentence. The prisoner was, at the time, a retired judicial officer, a leading member of the Bar, and he knew the proper procedures … of giving evidence in court.”

    This is indeed a fall from grace for a man once held in very high regard … he faces a maximum jail term of 14 years (very unlikely, though… more likely a period of weekend detention if there is a jail term), all over a 77 buck speeding ticket.

    Unrelated to the Wednesday sentencing hearing, New South Wales governor Marie Bashir last year formally stripped Einfeld of his legal title of QC (Queen’s Counsel).