Law & Culture - 2012 - Vol 37(3)

Law and CultureIn our Law & Culture column, you will find original works of fiction, reviews of a wide range of publications — not just conventional legal texts — as well as broader cultural forms such as films, TV shows, CDs, DVDs, art exhibitions and so on. The column links in with the Alternative Law Journal’s focus on law for the disadvantaged, human rights law and law reform.

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A Tragedy in Two Acts: Marcus Einfeld & Teresa Brennan

Kath Hall

A Tragedy in Two ActsFiona Harari; Pan Macmillan, 2011; 272pp; $34.99 (paperback)

We can be sure that Fiona Harari’s book is not one that either of these two Australians would have wanted written about them. With Marcus Einfeld, Harari has used her journalistic background to gather facts and details that shed light on how this former Federal Court judge came to be imprisoned for perjury and attempting to pervert the course of justice. For the most part, the details of this story are well-known. In 2006, Einfeld contested a $77 speeding fine by claiming that he had lent his car to Teresa Brennan, an academic from the United States. He later gave similar evidence under oath in the Local Court and signed a statutory declaration to the same effect. A journalist who was in the court on the day wrote a small story for the Daily Telegraph that was later checked by the assistant editor, at which point it became clear that Teresa Brennan had been killed in a car accident in early 2003. When confronted by the journalist, Einfeld claimed a second (ficticious) Teresa Brennan had been driving his car and later produced a 22-page statement describing the events of that day. All of this information was false and Einfeld was charged with perjury and perverting the course of justice. In sentencing him to three years imprisonment, NSW Supreme Court Justice Bruce James considered that Einfeld had committed ‘deliberate, premeditated perjury’. He found that Einfeld’s lengthy written statement had contained ‘a number of knowingly false assertions’ and concluded that there was ‘planned criminal activity’ by Einfeld in implicating another person as the driver of his car.

(2012) 37(3) AltLJ 212

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The Straits

Jude McCulloch

The StraitsABC1 TV, based on an idea by Aaron Fa’Aoso as developed by Louis Nowra;
starring Brian Cox, Rena Owen, Aaron Fa’Aoso, Jimi Bani, Firass Dirani, Suzannah Bayes-Morton;
10-part series screened 2012; available on iView or DVD, $39.99.

‘Beautiful one day, deadly the next.’

The Straits premiered on the ABC in February. The 10-part series is a crime-family drama spiced up by its exotic setting in far-north Queensland, which it plays up with many ad-style shots of turquoise seas, tropical islands and lush palms. Regular plane and boat rides showcase the panorama of coast and sea. Down south — Sydney and Melbourne — is referenced only as a place of exile. The north’s unique snakes, lizards, crocodiles, birds, cane-toads, stingrays and jellyfish all feature, sometimes providing handy alternatives to the crime genre’s standard lethal weapons.

(2012) 37(3) AltLJ 213

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Silk

Steven Castan

Silk, BBC TVBBC screened on ABC1 TV; series 1 & 2 
(12 episodes); written by Peter Moffatt;
starring Maxine Peake, Rupert Penry-Jones and Neil Stuke;
available on DVD, $39.99.

Your honour, Silk has just finished on ABC1, and I am not amused. There is an empty space in my Foxtel Planner on Thursday nights. I submit that the court direct that series three must be completed and filed with the ABC as soon as practicable. The show combines all of my favourite elements of recent British drama and I just cannot appear in any competent court of jurisdiction without my weekly dose of Martha, Clive and Billy et al.

(2012) 37(3) AltLJ 213

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