A minor traffic case turned into a feud between a Victoria Country Court judge and a man called Vasilios Kyriazis, whose last name during trial was twice mispronounced as “Crazy”.
It all started in November 2015, when Mr Kyriazis was found guilty for failing to produce his drivers license and comply with an authorised officer’s request to give his name and address.
Challenging the decision which came with a $750 fine, he represented himself before the County Court on an appeal against his convictions in December 2016. The hearing ran anything but smoothly, with judge Geoffrey Chettle threatening to hold him in contempt of court.
In particular, a judicial summary states: “Following a ruling by the judge that the proceeding could be sound-recorded but not videotaped, Mr Kyriazis refused to participate in the proceeding. He was convicted and discharged.”
But Mr Kyriazis felt disrespected and that he was denied a fair trial procedure, a claim he pursued at the Supreme Court, seeking a judicial review of the decision.
As reported by the Herald Sun, Judge Chettle had twice mispronounced Mr Kyriazis’ name, calling him “Mr Crazy” during trial, commented “why… we give these people a platform” and said the the case was “ridiculous”.
Referring to the complainant he also said: “If there was an offence of being annoying, vexatious, and a complete pain in the bottom, he could be charged and convicted of that, but there isn’t.”
While in October last year, Justice Kevin Bell found merit in Mr Kyriazis’ complaint and judge Chettle guilty of “ostensible bias”, the win was not meant to last for long.
About a week ago, the decision was reversed by the Court of Appeal, with the summary of judgment stating:
“The hearing [before the County Court judge] was remarkable for the level of hostility, anger and aggression directed by Mr Kyriazis (and some of his supporters) towards the Court. The judge for the most part remained calm and patient, although – unsurprisingly – he did occasionally raise his voice in his requests that Mr Kyriazis keep quiet.”
President Maxwell, Justice Beach and Justice Niall found that in Mr Kyriazis’ case all reasonably necessary steps were taken to ensure a fair hearing and that it was not judge Chettle’s obligation “to take extra measures to provide assistance to Mr Kyriazis.”
“On the contrary, it was Mr Kyriazis who ― for no good reason ― decided to withdraw from his own appeal and who thereafter engaged in what can only be described as disgraceful conduct towards the judge.”