Decision restricted

The unsatisfactory thing about the internet is that nothing is permanent.

If you really want to keep something you should copy or download it while it is up.

History is constantly being rewritten.  (Let’s not get started on links, which on many of my own older posts on this blog no longer work, even for things such as judgments which you might think should keep a permanent place.)

Yesterday I noticed that a decision of Magistrate David Heilpern from September 2017, [2017] NSWLC 19, had been amended.  Specifically, the text of the decision, including the name of the parties, is “restricted.”

What could possibly be so explosive or sensitive about an almost year-and-a-half old Local Court judgment that we should not be permitted to read it?

Wonderment increased when I discovered that the original decision, Commonwealth DPP v Adam James Easton, had been overturned on appeal by the DPP before Justice N Adams in Commonwealth Director of Public Prosecutions v Easton [2018] NSWSC 1516 .  Actually you can read quite a lot of the original judgment there.

Magistrate Heilpern’s (overturned) decision had dismissed charges against Mr Easton for failing to vote at the July 2016 Federal election.  Mr Easton had claimed he did not vote for conscientious grounds which would have excused him.  On appeal Justice Adams held that Mr Easton’s claims did not cut the mustard, or, rather, that Magistrate Heilpern’s consideration of them did not.  The matter was sent back to the Local Court for rehearing.

According to quite a good summary here at Buzzfeed, it was probably the publication by Magistrate Heilpern which provoked the appeal.  The Commonwealth couldn’t stand the publicity.

So why has the judgment been suppressed now?


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