New writing about the law in Melbourne

A Melbourne lawyer has written a book about a landmark Melbourne case. Michelle Schwarz’s A Question of Power; The Geoff Clark Case has just been published by Morrie Schwarz’s Black Inc which also publishes The Monthly and Quarterly Essay. Judging by the ‘top articles this month’ panel, there is a huge thirst out there for knowledge about limitation periods. One of the Clark decisions is a landmark in that area of the law: Stingel v Clark [2006] HCA 37.

I bought the book yesterday and have started reading it. It’s promising. It features slabs of Robert Richter’s cross-examination. It is a book about a trial of a kind which I have not seen too many examples of in recent times. Schwarz is doing a Readings talk with ABC Radio National’s Damien Carrick of the Law Report tomorrow evening at the Hawthorn store. The blurb says:

A gripping courtroom drama and a fearless work of investigative journalism, A Question of Power is the story of a man who spent his life gaining power only to be accused of its ultimate abuse.

Geoff Clark was once the most powerful Aboriginal man in Australia. As chairman of ATSIC he was at the pinnacle of his career when, in 2001, newspaper reports revealed that four women accused him of rape. The crimes they described were brutal – but the claims, dating back to the 1970s, were difficult to test.

In A Question of Power, Michelle Schwarz interviews the key players in the case: Clark, the women who accused him, their respective supporters and lawyers. She digs deep to show the story behind the case and explores the hard questions it raises. Was this a case of trial by media? Was there more to the story than the first reports suggested? What do we really know about Geoff Clark?

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