To the Small Claims Court in Eagle Street to hear Matilde Di Muccio's ludicrous action for defamation against Regional Councillor John Taylor. Her husband, John Blommesteyn, wants Jack Zwicker to be the trial judge. Now read on...
It has been a long running saga which I felt compelled to follow from the outset. I now think of myself as a regular at the Court. I have been here so often I am on nodding terms with police officers and sundry Court staff. I am also beginning to recognise members of the judiciary - on and off duty.
Today, presiding in the tiny Small Claims Courtroom, is Deputy Judge Alessandro Di Cecco whose accented English has a musical Italian air to it.
We enter his Court in single file and take our places. He starts by telling us there will be no trial today. I can't believe what I am hearing. Not another delay! Surely not!
The Judge tells us he cannot take the case because of a conflict declared last September. Apparently, he knows Taylor. So why on earth did the Court administrators schedule the trial for a date when he would be presiding at the Small Claims Court?
Running out of Judges
He says he will get a new trial date, making sure that Judges who have been involved previously in the case, through settlement conferences and such like, are excluded.
The list grows ever longer. Besides Deputy Judge Alessandro Di Cecco we can add Deputy Judge Davis. And Deputy Judge Mark Burch and Deputy Judge Vincent "growly bear" Stabile. And today we are to add Deputy Judge Paul Gollom. I fear we shall soon be running out of judges untainted by Di Muccio's action.
Now I hear Judge Di Cecco telling both parties they are the most powerful people in the room. In his soft Italian accent, he tells them they can kiss and make up and be friends again (well, that's the gist of it). He tells them there is a coffee shop downstairs and perhaps they can talk things over and reach an amicable settlement.
The Judge, now looking first at Di Muccio and then at Taylor says:
"I can invite you to go downstairs."
I can hardly believe my ears.
Matilde's husband, John Blommesteyn, with five impressively thick binders in front of him, protests that they've already had two settlement conferences and have "thrown out the olive branch" to Taylor but to no avail.
Taylor says he is not going downstairs to have coffee with his nemesis. He would prefer a glass of strychnine. (I made that up.)
Di Muccio says she just wants an apology and the record to be corrected. She tells the Judge it is a very simple case. It was about words uttered by Taylor in 2015.
What refreshing candour!
Now the Judge is searching for a date that will suit them both.
He is checking the list of his brother judges who would be excluded.
There is much discussion about Deputy Judge Paul Gollom who struck out the libel elements of Di Muccio's action, at her request, on 26 October.
Now I am listening to a surreal exchange. Blommesteyn tells us Judge Gollum struck out libel from his wife's claim even though the defendant (Taylor) contested this.
For Taylor, this is an absurd statement. Why on earth would he contest the dropping of the libel claim?
Di Muccio tells us
"I am absolutely aware he did contest it!"
I am the school swot. I want to raise my hand and say:
"Please Sir! I was there and he didn't do it, Sir!"
Bring me the transcript!
Di Muccio demands a transcript. The Judge - to my utter astonishment - says it takes six months to get a transcript. Are these transcripts meticulously written up by hand on the finest vellum?
The Judge wants to know why Di Muccio feels Judge Gollom has a conflict when all he did was strike out the libel. Good question, Sir!
Di Muccio explains that Taylor's whole defence is based on libel and slander. There are all the other things he did to her - you know, the targeted malice, intentional infliction of mental suffering, the injurious falsehoods and so on. She infers he is not up to snuff on all that stuff.
Blommesteyn says they will accept Gollom as a possible trial Judge so long as Taylor agrees not to appeal if the Judge finds in their favour.
Maddie wears the trousers
No. No. No. says Di Muccio.
It is now clear who wears the trousers in the Blommesteyn household.
She tells the Judge that out of an abundance of caution and a desire for transparency and in the cause of greater democracy she wants Gollom on the banned list.
Taylor wearily says he just wants the case heard. It is not about judge shopping.
Now Blommesteyn is telling us he takes exception to the judge shopping comment!
This is coming along quite nicely and is warming up to be first class entertainment but now Di Cecco rules "enough".
He will exclude Judge Gollom.
Now Blommestyn is on a roll. He says:
"If you are looking for a Judge then I suggest Jack Zwicker."
DJ Di Cecco rebukes him:
"No! You cannot pick the Judge!"