Jared Lynch Published: June 22, 2012
THE AFL is ''a juggernaut that is a law unto itself'', denying Geelong rookie Jesse Stringer any presumption of innocence after he allegedly bashed a woman, prominent criminal defence lawyer Rob Stary believes.
He has not been charged.
The Cats banned Stringer, 21, from senior selection for the rest of the season, despite police still investigating the assault, which allegedly happened at home in Grovedale last Friday.
The AFL Players Association feared the penalty would set a dangerous precedent and could prejudice Stringer's case.
But the league was adamant the sanction will not interfere with natural justice, and praised the Cats for taking a strong stance on violence against women.
Many people wonder if this is little more than window dressing designed to provide cover for the AFL’s desire to make more money by attracting women to the game. This would be commensurate with other AFL policies such as the watering down of the masculine aspects of the game.
But Stary, who acted for Geelong premiership player Mathew Stokes–which we can lodge in the 'so what? files’–when he was charged with drug offences in 2010, said due process must be followed.
In the AFL it is trial by corporate media.
He said former St Kilda player Andrew Lovett's career was destroyed after the Saints suspended him indefinitely after he was allegedly involved in a sexual assault.
For those of you who are unaware, St.Kilda went to great lengths to defend two WHITE footballers who were accused of rape, but sacked the BLACK one immediately.
He was later acquitted of rape charges.
Despite this inconvenient truth, corporate media pundits, such as prejudiced hypocrite, Mark Fine, from the John Singleton owned Melbourne radio station ’S.E.N’, have attempted to defend St.Kilda’s actions on the basis that Lovett 'got what he deserved’ because he only just arrived @ the club. Fine did not elaborate on precisely how much time a footballer should be @ a club before the football club that employs him should stick by him if he is accused of a crime that he didn’t commit.
''That should be the precedent that cases of this nature should not be prejudged,'' Stary said.
''There's obviously an assumption of guilt rather than a presumption of innocence. I think the AFL is a sort of juggernaut that is a law unto itself and the problem with that is they're certainly not answerable to anybody.
''If you want to be employed within the AFL you have got to abide by whatever their rules are, no matter how draconian or unjust they might be.’’
But Stary said if Stringer had admitted his guilt, the club was entitled to discipline him.
Actually, no they don’t. No employer has the right to interfere with claims that the ‘law’, or the ‘law’ acting in its corporate capacity may make against one of their employees.
''But he might not have a choice in it. Andrew Lovett certainly didn't have a choice in it and, as I said, that's a good example of a person's footballing career being irreparably damaged … as a result of how he was treated.''
AFL Players Association boss Matt Finnis said yesterday Geelong was entitled to take action that upheld its standards, but the club also needed to maintain Stringer's basic human rights.
''The Geelong Football Club has earned the respect of everybody with the way they manage their people, and we certainly respect the right of any club to deal with people where someone puts their hand up and says this is the type of behaviour I have been engaged in,'' Finnis said.
''But when I pick up the paper this morning … and I see the way in which there is a capacity for the legitimate and fundamental rights and interests of people … can perhaps be superseded by broader interests, and these type of things being played out in the media, that concerns me greatly.
Does it concern you? How concerning is it when you hear the sheep repeat the corporate media mantra that a player the Clubs/AFL/Media’s financial needs are superior to a player’s right to a lawful presumption of innocence?
''Whether you're an AFL player or any member of Australian society … we want to make sure that your fundamental rights and the presumption of innocence, to due process, to natural justice, are not compromised in any way.’’
Presuming of course that you can AFFORD this lawyer, as a friend of Mikiverse Law, who deals with this lawyer’s business via ‘legal aid’ found out when he was informed that he does not get to share the 'freedom fruits' that this altruistic quote states that ALL have a right to consume.
Geelong chief executive Brian Cook did not return The Age's calls yesterday.
No comment from a club who are interested in nothing other than making money and winning the games that they play. No different to any other club to be fair.
Cats coach Chris Scott, who decided the penalty with the leadership group and management, said on Tuesday the club would not act until it had gathered all the facts.
Apart from the penalties that they have already imposed;
1. He doesn’t get paid for the games he can no longer play.
2. He misses out on the pleasure of playing.
3. He cannot hope to improve himself @ his craft because of this penalty.
4. He ability to negotiate future contracts will be negatively impacted.
5. He is subject to public belief that ‘he has done something wrong’ because his own club has acted against him.
6. He has been held up to a standard that does not apply to other members of society insofar as other people are not subject to workplace punishments if an allegation is made against a member of the workplace.
7. He will be forced to undertake ‘re-education’ or ‘re-programming’ so he will better conform.
Fortunately for him, the club will not act until it has all the facts & that he carries a presumption of innocence otherwise he might be in a bit of strife.
The coach, Chris Scott, is an ex-student of the elitist Melbourne school Scotch College, as well as a member of a football club that ‘earned’ it’s success off the back of special concessions granted to it from the AFL. Has this ‘coloured’ his view?
Stringer will not be considered for senior selection for the rest of the season (11 games plus any finals the club may play). He will also not be considered for selection in the VFL for the next four games. He will be eligible to return in the VFL in round 18. He must also attend behaviour related education programs arranged by the club.
AFL operations manager Adrian Anderson said Stringer's situation was different to Melbourne's Liam Jurrah, who has continued to be eligible for selection despite being charged with criminal offences.
The difference arises because the Jurrah incident did not fall under the aegis of the AFL's Respect and Responsibility Policy, aimed, among other things, at stamping out violence against women.
The AFL is clearly more interested in it’s political marketing desires than in the lawful welfare of its emplopyees.
''I don't believe anything that I have seen in this has interfered in any sensible way with natural justice or the proper court processes in this case,'' Anderson said.
I am not sure if the scariest thing about this statement is the fact that he appears to believe it, or, that he thinks that marketing angles and profit are more important than people’s lawful right to a presumption of innocence.
This story was found at: http://www.theage.com.au/afl/afl-news/afl-a-law-unto-itself-says-defence-lawyer-20120621-20qwu.html