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With all due respect? : The house of pain

Every Issue

Cite as: (2003) 77(8) LIJ, p.75

Enjoy laughing at the failings, foibles and faux pas of others? Of course you do. Then why not contribute to WADR ?
By email to, by fax on 9607 9451 or by mail C/- The LIJ, 470 Bourke Street, Melbourne 3000.

Sex and sadism at the Supreme Court of Victoria? Surely not. Well, sadism maybe, but sex no. Or should it be the other way round? We’re not sure. Well, anyway, it seems that Melbourne-based model-turned-author Tara Moss has been using the Court for research for her steamy crime novels.

In an interview with local newspaper MPG, Ms Moss spoke about her novels and their sometimes confronting themes.

As the article said, Ms Moss’ books deliver “sex, sadism, violence and terror” and have such titles as Fetish and Split.

One paragraph from Split reads: “Then the hands were on her once more and the odour of the male – of deviance – filled her nostrils. She contracted, shrunk back, straining against the metal around her ankles and wrists, her flesh crying out in agony”.

Strong stuff. (Not to mention a real dilemma for fans and opponents of feminist theory – but that’s for another day.)

The obvious question is – where does she get her material? Well, apparently the highest court in our great state. However, much to the relief – or is that disappointment? – of the legal profession, Ms Moss went on to say that she only used the Supreme Court to do research on “law” matters.

Whatever her motives, it was certainly a case of a Moss leaving no stone unturned.

Speaking of kinky sex ... Leonie Brasier, of Yarra Legal, told us of an amusing incident involving a new student volunteer at an inner-city community legal centre and his run-in with a member of the sex industry.

“After going through training and learning the ropes with experienced volunteers for a couple of weeks, the student volunteer was ready to fly solo.

“His first solo client presented an employment contract and the eager new volunteer put up his hand to do the initial interview. Out came the contract between ‘The Manager’ and our client ‘Porn Star’.

“The client was about to set off to the US, not to ‘be in the movies’ or ‘be an actor’ but to be a porn star. Apparently, in that industry there are only roles for stars. No small part players here.

“The contract was a shining example of DIY law in which, following common drafting principles, every significant word or phrase was in capitals. The unlikely looking client had found his path to fame and fortune via the Internet. The contract – drawn up by the wannabe star – set out good advice in its terms.

“The advice included:

clause 3(a) ... no one likes a PRIMADAYNA;

clause 5(b) not to PARTY, TAKE DRUGS OR HAVE SEX before a shoot to ensure peak performance; and


According to Ms Brasier, confidentiality requirements forbid her from revealing the budding star’s screen name, although the name had something to do with the name of his first pet and the street he lived on.

Another addition to Rob Hulls’ burgeoning WADR quote file ...

The Attorney-General attended the Federation of Community Legal Centres 30th anniversary celebration to present the Pro Bono Service Awards to 22 recipients, including his father Frank Hulls.

The celebration marked the anniversary by asking participants to frock up in the fashions of the 1970s.

All this led the Attorney-General to deliver the line of the night.

“I misread the invitation, I’ve gotta say. I thought the invitation said bring someone in their 70s ... so I brought Dad.”

WADR loved the story contained in barrister Michael J O’Brien’s opinion piece in the Herald Sun on 24 June.

Mr O’Brien was making the case against the wearing of wigs and robes, or “fancy dress” as he put it.

To add power to his argument he told a story that he said showed how the public held barristers’ attire up to ridicule.

“I shall never forget the day, many years ago, when I was rushing to court, overhearing a young boy, obviously fascinated by my flying robes, say to his mother, ‘There goes Batman!’. To which his mother retorted, ‘Yes, but I wonder where Robin is’.”

Thanks to Peter Russo, of Russo & Russo, for this cracker of an anecdote.

“I spoke recently to a young real estate agent who informed me that he was not actually ‘representing’ a particular client, but only acting as a ‘mediocre’.

“Bemused, I asked him whether he had acted as a ‘mediocre’ previously and he assured me he had. I rang off comfortable in the knowledge that there was at least one additional mediocre estate agent assisting our local community.”

And to finish off this month, here is a poem by long-time practitioner and budding bard Ken Aitken for those of you looking for a bit of assistance in your next case. It is based on the inscription at the base of the Statue of Liberty.

Patron saint of plaintiffs

Bring me your injured, seeking recompense.
Bring me your victim of medical neglect,
your sufferer from lawyers’ negligence,
your consumer of polluted food, your investor
whom the auditor failed to protect.
I give my blessing at the courtroom door.


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