In the case of Cardinal George Pell, the Victorian Court of Appeal (VCA) comprising chief justice, Anne Ferguson president of the court of appeal, justice Chris Maxwell, and justice Mark Weinberg were unanimous in upholding Cardinal Pell’s conviction on counts 2 & 3 with justice Mark Weinberg dissenting on count 1 namely: “that the jury acted unreasonably in finding him guilty.”
The conviction of Cardinal Pell has produced divided reactions. As I said in an earlier post child abuse is abhorrent. Such cases naturally produce revulsion amongst the masses and so it should. However here, Cardinal Pell has from the very beginning rejected the accusations.
In our criminal law firm we see these cases everyday with clients denying any wrongdoing – that is why a lot of these cases go to trial.
In Cardinal Pell’s case there has been some unease about his conviction amongst the legal fraternity and amongst news commentators and journalists. In so far as count 1 is concerned justice Weinberg was not so convinced the jury “got it right.” The job of the appeal judge is to go over the evidence, in this case some 2,000 pages of transcript of the trial, to determine whether the ground of appeal argued by the defence can be made out. A majority decision as in this case 2 out of 3 judges will determine the matter.
What then is Cardinal Pell’s option? Given justice Weinberg’s dissention on count 1, and other grounds the defence team may appeal to the High Court.