Goat owner’s “frivolous” case thrown out of court
THE laughter of a magistrate who chortled briefly in court became a bizarre bone of contention in a legal stoush now finally stamped out by a trio of senior Tasmanian judges.
The "frivolous" case, brought by goat owner and political hopeful Sven Olaf Gunnarsson-Wiener, was officially thrown out of court in a judgment handed down by Chief Justice Alan Blow.
The judge, presiding over the full court of the Supreme Court, said the case involved "scandalous material", including accusations the Magistrates Court had tampered with an audio recording and that a Supreme Court judge was trying to protect a former colleague.
The case started in Launceston in November 2018, when Magistrate Ken Stanton asked Mr Gunnarsson-Wiener if he had children, and he replied "not that I know of, no".
"The magistrate laughed. Once. Briefly. The proceedings now before the full court relate to that laugh," Chief Justice Blow said.
Mr Gunnarsson-Wiener, who was fighting a DPIPWE officer over instructions relating to the care of his eight goats, claimed the magistrate laughed after an initial chuckle by his opponent's lawyer.
When the case returned in March 2019, Mr Gunnarsson-Wiener made an application for Mr Stanton to disqualify himself on the ground of apprehended bias, arguing "a fair-minded lay observer" might apprehend the magistrate as not bringing an impartial mind to the case.
When Mr Stanton refused to disqualify himself, Mr Gunnarsson-Wiener appealed, but his case was dismissed by Supreme Court judge Helen Wood.
During that appeal hearing, an audio recording from the Magistrates Court was played, but the lawyer's alleged laughter couldn't be heard, leading to Mr Gunnarsson-Wiener's claims it had been tampered with.
Justice Wood said there was no basis for that allegation, adding it wouldn't have meant the magistrate was biased even if he had laughed.
Mr Gunnarsson-Wiener attempted to appeal Justice Wood's decision on a number of grounds, but Chief Justice Blow said: "None of the grounds of appeal have any merit. The appellant's contentions are so untenable that there is absolutely no prospect of his appeal succeeding.
"It can properly be characterised as frivolous."
Originally published as Goat owner's "frivolous" case thrown out of court