Readers will be daily aware that their professional calling comes with a duty to speak truth unto power. Obiter notices that a judge in Australia has added to that burden – lawyers appearing before Justice Paul Coghlan, who sits in the state of Victoria, must also avoid being ‘boring’.
Coghlan’s refreshing judicial style is being related as a 2019 murder case he presided over is appealed – by both the convicted defendant, who claims a miscarriage of justice, and the prosecution, who thought the 19-year sentence for the brutal 2005 murder of Elia Abdelmessih too light.
You can’t please everyone, it seems.
During the original trial as defence lawyer Richard Edney was questioning a witness on DNA, the Coghlan interjected to tell him ‘this is even more boring than the other parts of your cross-examination’.
Other remarks in front of the jury, according to the Australian Associated Press, included the observation that they’d ‘still be here 13 years later’ hearing crime scene evidence. Coghlan also described other parts of the defence as a ‘red herring’.
With the expanded use of remote hearing, judges who feel some affinity for the opinionated Coghlan can at least make use of the ‘mute’ button to avoid unfortunate future attention.