Illustration: Rocco Fazzari
AS THE first indigenous magistrate, Pat O'Shane has a ''sensitive antenna'' about racism.
But her barrister has told a hearing into complaints about Ms O'Shane's judicial conduct that she was not accusing a paramedic of racism when she asked ''you don't like blacks?'' during a case against an African man charged with assaulting the officer.
Ms O'Shane faced the Judicial Commission of NSW on Tuesday, over the complaints by the NSW Attorney-General, Greg Smith, about her conduct in four cases.
The complaints against the magistrate argue the race issue was an ''inappropriate and offensive question'' to raise and she unjustifiably implied the officer was motivated by racism.
Ms O'Shane dismissed the case against Kasian Wililo, accused of punching the paramedic Christopher Martin. Mr Martin called him a ''filthy pig'' when he spat on the ambulance floor.
''The fact that magistrate O'Shane had a higher or more sensitive antenna about racism is something the conduct division should not be surprised about,'' Phillip Boulten, SC, representing Ms O'Shane said.
Ms O'Shane did not ''positively'' accuse Mr Martin of racism. ''It's not open to the conduct division to conclude that any part of her decision making … was motivated by a belief or a suspicion that the ambulance officer was acting as a racist.''
Counsel assisting the commission, Jeremy Gormly, SC, argued otherwise: ''She did not say to him 'you are racist' or 'you are motivated by racism', but the question and the subsequent question did,'' Mr Gormly said.
The complaints say Ms O'Shane acted ''perversely and without impartiality'' in two other cases and obstructed the presentation of the prosecution in the Wililo case and one another. The commission reserved its decision about whether it will refer the matter to the NSW Parliament to consider her removal from office.