LSS Experiences: The Gibbs Moot

James Barrett

Overall Experience

We had fun and are grateful for the experience. The competition was excellently hosted and friendly. It was nice to see the Melbourne University faculty, local barristers and former judges involved and willing to chat to competitors at length. We highly recommend this competition. This brief piece serves as an honest reflection on our experience and advice to future competitors.

Accommodation and Transportation

We flew from Canberra. The inconvenience of flying from Sydney didn’t appear cost-effective. We arrived about 3pm the day before registration. We left the afternoon after the competition. This was ideal.

We booked an AirBnB place near Queen Victoria Markets about 12 minutes’ walk from Melbourne Uni. There was no stress with transport, and although there some tight turn-arounds between commitments, we had time to drop our stuff at home, refresh, work there and use Melbourne Uni facilities when needed.

Written Submissions

Here we focus on teams that clearly put in much effort. The difference in memorial quality – both in depth of research and answering the questions – was obvious only to better competitors and judges. Some judges said, fairly, our memorials were dense, with lots of work done through footnotes. Judges who weren’t well acquainted with the area missed nuances and liked readability.

Moots

The standard of oral presentation was high and the preliminary judges’ expertise in the area varied. We realised it was best to start by assuming nothing of the judge, gauge how to work with them during the moot, and state the flaws in opposing arguments simply, ruthlessly and respectfully.

Our key strength was collective depth of research. This meant we could: (1) pick the best arguments early; (2) resort to on-point authority in tricky situations; (3) understand the underly- ing principles and debates; (4) react to the other side’s arguments put at their highest, within our own structure. Those strengths helped our delivery. We honed our use of authority towards the judges’ backgrounds, without just saying they should accept things because they had said them before. In the grand final both teams had amazing presentation but our strengths made the difference.

Team Dynamics

By rotating speaking roles between the three of us in the preliminary rounds we balanced fatigue-management with expertise on particular roles. For the finals, we unanimously chose speakers with greatest depth of knowledge and therefore the best ability to react to questions which were hard or sniped weak spots in our arguments.

We were friends before the competition, but there were tense times. We gave constructive feedback when appropriate, with the mutual understanding that it was for everyone’s benefit.

One universally useful tenet was to ‘keep perspective’. We needed to detox from the competition sometimes. This brings us to:

Social Events and Activities

We hit Lygon Street a few times. Once we went to a homely Italian restaurant. Another time we brought food back, chatted and watched TV. There was a nice cocktail event where the break was announced. We took a breath and feigned socialising but our heads were in the game.

The gala dinner was ‘black tie’, but most people were dressed as if for law ball. Ladies went through slightly less trouble for obvious reasons. Everyone looked hot. People were fairly friendly. Most were tired, so there was no expectation to be very social or kick on. Will and Prashant went to bed around 10.30pm. Nerds.

Thanks

We extend our gratitude to Associate Professor James Stellios, our coach, for taking the time to provide feedback on the merit of our arguments, organise practice moots and judge us. We thank Doctors Dominique Dalla-Pozza and Ryan Goss for judging those moots and supporting us.

Team

James Barrett

Prashant Kelshiker

Will Randles

Review: Joe Cinque’s ‘Consolation’

Harry McLaurin

In October 1997, ANU law student Anu Singh was charged with the murder of her boyfriend, Joe Cinque. Killed as part of a sordid suicide pact of which Cinque was an unknowing participant, Singh twice injected Cinque with potentially lethal doses of heroin while he was asleep, having rst drugged his coffee with Rohypnol. Cinque’s prolonged death came despite a number of friends being aware of Singh’s disturbing plan. Singh and a fellow law student, Madhavi Rao, were put on trial for Cinque’s murder. Singh was found guilty of manslaughter due to diminished responsibility and Rao was acquitted of all charges. Singh served four years in prison where she completed her law degree before going on to do Masters degree in criminology and then a PhD on female offenders.

This angering and troubling tale was originally given a voice in Helen Garner’s book Joe Cinque’s Consolation, which explores whether the single-judge trial at the ACT Supreme Court truly brought justice to Cinque’s grieving family. It examines the greater question of morality beyond the letter of the law and seeks to preserve Cinque’s life in memory and provide justice to his brother and parents whose lives were also destroyed by the actions of Singh’s hideous actions. Sotiris Dounoukos’s adaptation, which shares the same title, examines what happened before the murder. Investigating the mentality and conflicted morals of the friends who were aware of Singh’s plot yet said nothing, and the gradual mental deterioration of Singh which led her to commit such a heinous crime. In that sense, it is a story of ethics, culpability and relationships.

Filmed at ANU and around Canberra, the campus and city play as much a role in the story as the characters. The quiet middle-class suburban setting in which most of the events take place contrast strikingly with the intense drama that unfolds be- tween Singh and her inner circle. While Canberra locals will be able to spot obvious inconsistencies between the cityscape and the lm’s 90s setting, Dounoukos does his best to capture the life of an ANU student involving in the underground drug culture of the time. Indeed, the sheer mundanity of the setting acts as the impetus for the casual drug use which takes place, as the psychedelic effects become an escape for the lonely, desperate and bored. The quiet serene beauty of the ANU cam- pus, which at times resembles a university marketing video, is also at odds with the complexity of the characters and the mental trauma that takes place. Indeed, the lm feels very close to home. There are shots in Chifley, Coombs lecture theatre (renamed ‘University Moot Court’), the law school lawns, Sully’s Creek and University Avenue with the fluff falling from the trees. The fact that these events occurred within this tranquil space is deeply disturbing and unnerving.

Singh, portrayed by Maggie Naouri, conveys a compelling combination of beauty, narcissism and destructiveness. From her first interaction with Cinque in a bar to her final chilling telephone call to the emergency operator after Cinque’s death, you sense the underlying disturbances present in every action she takes. Naouri is believable as we all know someone with her outward characteristics – her intelligence, her somewhat shy demeanour, her beauty and her selfishness.

Yet it is a shock to believe that such a monster could be hidden beneath this everyday personality in a sophisticated and highly educated setting such as ANU. Naouri does an excellent job at showing how Singh’s bodily insecurities spiral out of con- trol into borderline personality disorder, severe depressive disorder and psychotic delusions. Her manipulation of Cinque is painful to watch, but you are given a glimpse into the reason underlying
her actions. Her delusions about her own terminal illness and the need to end her and Cinque’s lives may provide consolation to those angered by the original trial judge’s seeming leniency towards Singh in finding manslaughter rather than murder. Yet understanding the purpose for Singh’s actions no doubt provides little consolation to Cinque’s family given the film’s graphic portrayal of Cinque’s death and the dif culty in empathising with Singh. Indeed Singh is given few redeeming features. As a result you leave the film angered and confused, yet perhaps this is the outcome Dounoukos is seeking – which perhaps mirrors the sentiment felt by Cinque’s family.

Cinque himself, played by Jerome Meyer, displays the gentleness, loyalty and decency that has been attributed to the young engineer. While his seeming ignorance of Singh’s premeditated plot to kill him is explained by his trust and dedication, you gain the sense that his passive presence on screen is designed to de ect attention from him to the actions of his killer and her friends. As a result you gain a deep respect and admiration for Cinque and a deep loathing of Singh.

The most troubling aspect of the lm comes from the culpability and moral apathy of the friends who were aware of Singh’s plot. The role of Singh’s enabler, Rao, who purchased the drugs and set up the ‘farewell’ dinner parties on the pretext that Singh was committing suicide was shocking. It is horrifying when not one guest seeks to confirm the plan with Cinque, with each friend wilfully turning a blind eye to the warning signs of his impending death. The bystander effect, displayed on screen by the worried glances, unease and discomfort of the characters, serves as a lesson for people to seek help for friends struggling with mental illness. While some friends express reservations and seek to intervene, the lack of resolve which you would expect of a person in this situation leads you to resent these characters almost as much as Singh. While Singh is mentally unsound, the stoned, entitled and cavalier attitudes displayed by this group offers little consolation.

Joe Cinque’s Consolation is a mesmerising and saddening film displaying the worst of human nature. While it may contribute to preserving Cinque’s memory into the future, it leaves you yearning for justice to be served to those morally culpable for Singh’s crimes.

LSS Bans Tickets

Dan Trevanion LSS President 2016

The ANU LSS is conscious of the progressive use of tickets in its elections over the past 3 years. The existing electoral by-laws of the Society did not adequately address the use of tickets and so

I felt it was necessary for the Society to either formally accept or reject tickets in our elections. I believe the motion to reject tickets was correct for two main reasons.

First, that tickets create the perception of a closed system, dissuading students from running for a position if they have not been sought by a ticket. Our committee discussed this aspect in detail, and in my opinion, correctly concluded that even initiatives like the ANUSA expression of interest form do not dispel this perception. The ANU LSS operates on the trust its members place in us as their representatives. Encouraging an election that perpetuates a perception of exclusivity undercuts our ability to act as representatives of our commu- nity.

Second, that tickets fundamentally align students with a certain policy or ideology. The ANU LSS, as successful as it has been in carving out an advocacy role, is at its core a functional body that operates through events.

For this reason, individuals that have strong organisational skills, communicative ability and work-ethic are needed. These capacities are personal and are not strengthened by running together with other students. Instead, running as a ticket is more likely to push these personal attributes to the background and bring group policy to the fore. To ensure the Society oper- ates with the best personnel in the future it is critical that our elections encourage students with the appropriate attributes to run and al- lows for students to distinguish themselves on the basis of these attributes.

I encourage people to read the minutes of the meeting on the 21st of August for some of the other opinions offered: http://www.anulss.com/ committee-meeting-minutes/

Our elections will begin in early October and we encourage all law students to be involved. We will be holding an information session with current committee members in the lead up to nominations. Keep a look out for the time and date at https://www.facebook.com/ANULSS/ .