Joseph Vella purchased a knife and a black beanie and then turned up to his estranged wife’s door two days later in their company. In his quiver he also sported a baseball bat. He bashed her head in with the bat and then slit her throat with the knife. Charged with murder, he admitted the acts, but his defence was that he had gone to the wife’s home to tell her that he would take the kids on New Year’s Eve so she could go out, but that she had provocatively told him that he would never see his kids again, whereupon — what’s a bloke to do? — he laid into her, though not with the intention of finishing her off. He was jailed, but appealed to the Court of Appeal and then sought leave unsuccessfully to the High Court. His appeals raised aspects of his counsel’s conduct of his defence, apparently the same ones focussed on in the disciplinary complaints referred to below against his counsel.
Appeals exhausted, Mr Vella turned his attentions to his lawyers. He lodged a disciplinary complaint about the prosecutor. The Western Australian disciplinary body did not lodge a prosecution as a result and Mr Vella sought a review of that decision. He failed: Vella and Mactaggart  WASAT 28. Interestingly, the prosecutor represented himself before the disciplinary tribunal. Mr Vella lodged a disciplinary complaint about his own counsel. Again, the disciplinary body did not lodge a prosecution in response, and Mr Vella sought a review of that decision. Again he failed: Vella and Bowden  WASAT 56. This time, the barrister retained solicitors and counsel to represent him. Mr Vella also lodged a complaint alleging overcharging, which gave rise to a taxation. Continue reading “Counsel’s discretion as to trial tactics”