Disgraced by the community, recently disbarred by the legal profession and now excoriated by a Royal Commission into her adventures in the Victorian justice system, we should – instead – be thanking Nicola Gobbo for her great community service in helping to jail many major Victorian criminals.

What Nicola Did

Let’s be clear.  I don’t like Nicola’s basic line of work, her friends or her style.  She defended some of Victoria’s worst criminals, even when she knew they were guilty.  She befriended many known criminals, partied hard with them and also – it seems –  with the police!   

But, without Nicola providing police with information from her clients or their acquaintances, major criminals like Tony Mokbel, Carl Williams and many others (up to 1,000 cases are said to be impacted) would not have been convicted.  We all cheered when the Victoria Police Purana task force successfully prosecuted criminals and put an end to the gangland wars in Victoria.  Now the Royal Commission findings threaten to release known criminals and tarnish the careers of those brave police who took them on, and found a way to convict them.  The cases were not trumped up.  But the manner in which the evidence was gathered was outside the ethical norms of the legal system, by both Gobbo and Purana.

Do We Want Law Enforcement or Justice?

I believe that, if a person is guilty of a crime, they should plead guilty, not be defended and waste valuable taxpayer’s money on unnecessary court cases.  That would be true ‘justice’…but of course the ‘law’ doesn’t work for justice, only for a debated result between lawyers and judges.

By contrast, even priests are now required to report confidential revealed confidentially about sexual harassment to the police.  Teachers are required to notify social workers of children who they think may be being abused.  In each case, this is for the perceived greater good of the society – that possible criminal behaviour is picked up early and stopped.  We expect the truth to come out.  So why should police not be able to receive information from defence lawyers that a criminal act has occurred??  Is it ‘justice’ we want or merely ‘law enforcement’?

The Legal System is the Real Problem

Perhaps the real problem is the legal system, not informants (called whistleblowers in other industries…).  Society wants and expects justice, not legal or political shenanigans.  If the legal system was really interested in delivering ‘justice’ (the Victorian department is called the ‘Department of Justice’), getting correct, truthful information – by any reasonable means – would be supported.  Instead, under the guise of ‘legal ethics’, the system is tearing apart an unlikely Victorian hero, who has done more than most to improve our society.  Once again the whistleblower is shafted, while the society and the system reaps the benefit.

What Am I Missing?

Why is no one – no one – prepared to speak up for Nicola?  Why are they not speaking up for the Victorian Police, who stopped the gangland war?  Surely the greater good justifies the actions they took.  A travesty is being committed by the legal system in our name.