Justice for none. Whistleblocked! Australian whistleblowing lawyer faces lifetime ban for exposing legal, judicial and government corruption

At 10 am this Friday morning 5 October 2012, in Melbourne, a prominent Australian journalist, lawyer and political activist, Mr James Johnson will be sentenced on two charges of “professional misconduct” and faces being banned from practising law for at least 5 years (possibly for life) as payback for blowing the whistle on widespread corruption and misconduct in Australia’s legal system.

Earlier this month, the Victorian government (in its Victorian Civil Administrative Tribunal) ruled that despite a distinguished two decade career amongst the elite of the legal profession, Mr Johnson’s crime? Making comprehensive whistleblower complaints about corruption and misconduct by a number of Australian barristers, solicitors and judges – complaints that, despite their seriousness and the weight of evidence behind them, the relevant government authorities have not and will not investigate to determine whether they are true or not.

The Victorian Legal Services Commissioner, Mr Michael McGarvie, who is prosecuting Mr Johnson has asked Victoria’s VCAT Tribunal Senior Member Mr Jonathan Smithers impose a lifetime ban on Mr Johnson.

Mr Johnson has responded by filing a 500 page submission proving the truth of his allegations, including draft orders for the VCAT Member to sign, and by demanding the resignations the Legal Services Commissioner, along with Mr Jonathan Smithers of VCAT and Mr John Bowman of VCAT. In May of this year VCAT Deputy President Bowman ruled at a secret all-Government hearing “a day and a half” before the “trial” against Mr Johnson began on 21 May, that Mr Johnson would not be allowed to produce any government evidence to defend himself to against the charges and to prove his status and rights to legal protections as a “whistleblower”. VCAT struck out 57 summonses calling for the production of substantial government records and testimony from 57 hostile witnesses, most of them prominent public servants.  (Click here to view more information on James Johnson).

“Australia is the only country in the world where, and only since 2005, it is against the law to sue lawyers who are negligent in the court room.” Mr Johnson said, “On top of this, we have a lame legal regulator who refuses to investigate more than 90% of the 2,000 complaints about lawyers that the Legal Services Commissioner receives every year. The complaints he refuses to hear include complaints about family lawyers (over 40% of complaints), lawyers executing wills and estates (nearly 30% of complaints) and litigation lawyers generally (another 20% of complaints). The stories, and the statistics, are chilling.”

Mr Johnson has not said anything more about the state of corruption in the legal system than has been said by dozens of other prominent legal figures including parliamentarians, cabinet ministers and judges).

“The bureaucrats have a hard time ahead, explaining why they have repeatedly gone after me for whistleblowing, while not going after any of those dozens of high profile legal and political figures who have said the same things as me over the years, including recently.” Mr Johnson said.

Mr Johnson has campaigned for years to the Victorian Premier and Attorney-General on the need to heed the calls of a damning 2009 Annual Report to Parliament by Victorian State government on widespread corruption and failure in the office of the Victorian Legal Services Commissioner.

“The Baillieu Clark government needs to turn the clock back on the legal profession, only as far back as 2004, when lawyers were regulated by an independent non-lawyer regulator, Ms Kate Hamond the former Victorian Legal Ombudsman. The Baillieu Clark government needs to launch an in-depth investigation into widespread abuse of the courts system by the solicitors, barristers, judges and bureaucrats that run them. We can’t wait for an ‘Independent Broad Based Commission Against Corruption’ – especially one that looks like it will not be independent of the legal profession, and will not be broad based either. The government has to act now.”

Mr Johnson is philosophical and continues to work to change the system. “What the Victorian bureaucrats have done is to declare that notwithstanding glorious Acts of Parliament like Victoria’s Whistleblowers Protection Act of 2001 and Charter of Human Rights and Responsibilities Act of 2004, the day to day reality is that it is illegal to be a whistleblower and to speak out against government corruption in Australia.”

“As Christine Assange said, ‘we live in an age where whistleblowers are criminals, and journalists are enemy combatants. And I am a whistleblower and a journalist, as well as being a lawyer and a political activist,” he said.

“Our elected members of parliament, whom we elect to govern and protect us from excessive misuse of powers by bureaucrats and judges, should all hang their heads in shame. They are failing us too.”

This is not just James Johnson’s personal battle for justice, freedom of speech and the right to speak out against corruption in government – a “lawyerocracy” as Mr Johnson famously calls it, “This is a personal and political battle for the 99.99% of us Australians.”

The stage is set for an epic battle between the forces of good versus evil, on Friday morning in VCAT (“William Cooper Justice Centre”, 223 William Street at 10:00 am). 



#1 HegridDiarmuid Hannigan 2012-10-11 14:32
Mr Johnson who was acting as a self represented non litigant is being demonized by the Legal Services Commissioner because he pointed out to his profession in strong worded affidavits some of there failings. On the other hand The Legal Services Commissioner allows lawyers who act as executors to lie to the children of their dead parents about the deceased wishes in order to create fictitious disputes within an estate that will benefit the lawyer executor financially in the form of fees and charges. The Legal Services Commissioner states that these lawyers are not acting as lawyers and are executors and he cannot investigate them.

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