I received the following information from the XJW in Australia who agreed to keep us all informed of whatever takes place at court hearings that involve Steven Unthank and the five Watch Tower entities that were recently criminally charged in Victoria, Australia.
This is the report for the hearing held on September 13, 2011.
I wrote down these notes after the court hearing. Time and family commitments don't allow me to go into too much detail or to discuss legal aspects of the case, but a few notes and observations is what I said I will provide, so here they are. This was a one off for me as, with travel, it took up nearly my entire day.
In my opinion, there was always going to be the home-town advantage for Mr. Unthank in bringing the Watchtower Society to his local Magistrates Court for prosecution. This is the natural process of prosecuting a case or indeed five. A prosecutor, who also is the informant, generally has available to him the determining factors of who, what, when, where, why and how.
On the actual proceedings relating to all five cases there is nothing sensational to report other than it was actually sensational that the Watchtower Society and the Governing Body were really being prosecuted.
Upon the announcing and calling of all five cases by the Bench Clerk, the legal counsel for the Watchtower Society of Australia immediately, in my opinion, tried to take control and direct the proceedings.
A couple of times Mr. Unthank corrected her arguments but on the whole he appeared to let her bulldoze along uninterrupted. The reasons became clearer later when Mr. Unthank requested that all five cases be transferred to the summary stream. This request, Mr. Unthank assured the court, was also supported by the Director of Public Prosecutions. A letter from the DPP was added to the file in regards to this. It’s difficult to argue with that request when the prosecutor/informant and the Director of Public Prosecutions are in agreement on the progress and handling of the case.
One observation that could generally be noted by anyone paying particular attention to the proceedings was the relationship that Mr. Unthank had with those in court. He was comfortable, appeared to know everybody, talked with the Police Prosecutor, and was on a first name basis with almost everyone including the Bench Clerk who is responsible for the administration of the court.
Even the Police Prosecutor, who had about twenty cases to deal with, appeared to be friends with Mr. Unthank. I would not be surprised if they met up for a few beers afterwards.
Just prior to the five cases being heard, the following took place: In another case before the court the Magistrate gave a stern lecture and warning to a drink driver who had crashed his car while speeding and almost killed himself. The Magistrate stated during his discourse that most people in their lives have at one time or the other been guilty of speeding or received a speeding ticket. He then added "with the exception of those at the Bar" and pointed with his hand towards Mr. Unthank and the Police Prosecutor.
On reflection, this is quite humorous. In one sweeping statement and wave of the hand the Magistrate had literally accused everyone in the courtroom of being law breakers, including legal counsel for the Watchtower Society. But he excluded and then singled out Mr. Unthank and the Police Prosecutor as being the only two people, in his Honour’s expert opinion that were before the court and were not law breakers.
After the court hearing I took the opportunity to speak to a few police officers who were at there. They were aware of the cases and the impression given was that they admire Mr. Unthank for what he is doing and expressed that to me quite clearly.
Why no one turned up to defend the Congregation of Jehovah's Witnesses I can not speculate on other than to say that it is quite possible that someone somewhere ordered that they be abandoned and not looked after. Such would not surprise me.
It was hardly expected that anyone would turn up to defend the faithful and discreet slave. How do you prove to a court you are their legal counsel when a recent Watchtower magazine stated there is no network of members?
As to why no one turned up to defend the Governing Body I can only resubmit a previous opinion I gave on the subject of a "valid charge":
These criminal charges against the Governing Body pose a number of very serious problems for its members and for all Jehovah's Witnesses in general.
To our knowledge the Governing Body has never before been formally charged with committing indictable criminal offences. This case may have far reaching ramifications that many of us may not have initially realized or considered.
For instance, from the stand point of theocratic rule, it could well be argued that each member of the Governing Body that has a criminal charge lodged against him is no longer “irreprehensible” or “free from accusation." As such he would no longer "have a fine testimony even from people on the outside."
And think about this: If the members of the Governing Body refuse to recognize these criminal charges as "valid” then they can not engage legal counsel to represent them nor appear in court to defend themselves as they run the very likely risk of validating the charges within the congregation.
If the Governing Body answers the charges in this case, then this would confirm that a "valid charge" has actually been brought against each of them. As such, according to theocratic rule it is crucial, from a standpoint of religious credibility and impartiality that any allegations that evidence exists of wrongdoing by the Governing Body be thoroughly examined by the congregation of Jehovah's Witnesses.