The story about The Honourable Marcus Einfeld – now a former Federal Court judge – reaches its conclusion. It contains a lesson about the arrogance nature of us as human being when it comes to our mistake within our domain. A mistake that proven become very expensive for Mr Einfeld, but also can hurt any of us if we did not learn from this experience. Let us see why…

Who is Marcus Einfeld

Justice Marcus Einfeld

ex-Justice Marcus Einfeld

Marcus Einfeld was a judge for Federal Court and also for NSW, Western Australia and Australian Capital Territory Supreme Courts until he retired in 2001.  Since his retirement, Justice Einfeld also has become Chairman of a number of public companies and regularly advises corporations on corporate ethics and governance.

He received the Order of Australia (AO) for services to international affairs and the promotion and protection of human rights. He is also UN Peace Laureate. He has been a leading human rights lawyer since the 70s and prominent member of the Jewish community: Australian Association of Jewish Holocaust Survivors and Descendants, Sydney Jewish Museum, as Ambassador of Hope for Jewish Care.

He has 4 children from 2 marriage. He is also a pianist who enjoys theatre and arts.

What a impeccable life… flooded with achievements not everyone can fulfill!  At lease, until the incident…

Events Chronology

This saga begun on quiet Sunday afternoon, 8 January 2006 when a speed camera caught his car doing 60 kmh on a 50 kmh  zone along Macpherson Street in Sydney Rich’s suburb of Mosman:

  • Feb 2006: he received a notice of infringement of speeding : 10 km/h above speed limit. Instead of just pay $77 fine and got the demerit points, he chose to challenge the infringement and request a court hearing.
  • Aug 2006: on court hearing he said a friend of his, American college professor Teresa Brennan, had been driving the car but had died after returning to the US.. He stated that he would sign a statutory declaration saying about this.  So, the magistrate of this case dismissed the offence as it’s not proven.
  • A journalist of Daily Telegraph doing his research leave the prosecutor no choice but re-open the case as it later emerged that Ms Brennan had died three years before the speeding offence took place (D’oh!).
  • Since his feet already wet with lie, he chose to have another lie and change his story. He said that he was not driving at that time and nowhere near Mosman. But mobile phone records showed he was in the area at the time and was actually driving a companion, former SBS journalist Vivian Schenker (D’oh!)
  • He again changed his story and claimed he was driving his mother’s Corolla on January 8. However, security footage taken at Mr Einfeld’s mother’s apartment block in Bondi Junction allegedly showed her vehicle did not leave the car park at any time on that day (D’oh!)
  • A friend of his, Ms Angela Liati, not sure want to help voluntarily or under duress, try to “help” Mr Einfeld and told the police that that she had been using Mr Einfeld’s car at the time of the speeding offence. This is later proven to be not true and she was found guilty last month of making a false police statement. Ms Liati is currently on bail awaiting sentence. (D’oh! D’oh!)
  • March 2009: he is convicted of perjury and making false statement and grant him at least 2 years in jail. The judge of this case, Justice Bruce James said “Any lawyer, and especially a lawyer who has been a barrister and a judge, who commits such an offence is to be sentenced on the basis that he would have been fully aware of the gravity of his conduct” Marcus Einfeld is 70 years-old.

Insights

Can we see ourselves in the story above ? Within our domain: work, family, school , community, etc we surely have the advantage knowledge about the inside of our domain with our expertise. And for sure, whether you want to admit it or not, from time to time we use that advantage for our own purpose, to give a favor for a friend or something similar.

Then what happen if someone caught you red handed doing something that you are not supposed to be doing? Will you be admissive or defensive ? Well, it’s natural human behavior to avoid himself/herself an embarrassment that will make himself/herself like a fool. A lie or excuse then produced. Now this is the turning point: if someone then question or challenge this excuse, what will you do:

  • Escalate the reasoning with further excuse: arrogance kick in? – or-
  • Admit the mistake, apologize and move on: arrogance replaced with humility?

Let see the hypotetical conversation below:

A: “Hey, did you just pick your nose? it’s very gross…”
B: “No!!, I just scratch my nose..”
C: “Are you sure? I saw you picked your nose”
B: “Never, I would not do such thing…”
C: “Let see, I have the recorded video, you know?”

Similar situation with much more simple matter… Which path we will chose: following our arrogance and comeback with further defensive strategy -or- follow our humility, apologize and move on ?

Usually we brand certain people as arrogant as if it’s their “name”. For example: If we say “Tom is arrogant” , the arrogance stick with him all the time (similar to “Tom is  male”==> he will be all the time male, cannot change. Compare to “Tom is happy”: the happiness perceived to be temporary, he won’t be being happy at all time)

But the thing is, arrogance is just one of the ‘tools’ to help we to assess the situation, which is part of human nature behavior. Everybody has it. Some people chose to give it more priority, some people control it. So, it’s something that you decide whether consciously or unconsciously. Arrogance is the one who defend you against humiliation and embarrassment. If you do something to avoid yourself being humiliated or embarrassed, that’s your arrogance kicks-in. After the ‘danger’ gone, so does your arrogance.

So, what is the point? My point is: in whatever we do, we as human being always make a decision about what we do. It’s not something automatic as a result of someone else provocation. It’s always your own decision. Some people with more self control make that decision consciously, some people still make it unconsciously. But still you are 100% responsible of what you do, because it’s your decision. Simple example: some one punch you on the face: you don’t always punch back, you make a decision whether you want to punch back or just walk away. If you did punch back, that’s not because he punched you first, but because I decide to punch him. See the difference ?

Well, let see more common situation:

  • people blaime cigarrette company to give them lung cancer, they forget that it’s their own decision to smoke it or not.
  • people blaime fast food chain to make them fat, they forget that it’s their own decision to eat there
  • people blaime their broker for recommend the stock that tanked, they forget that it’s 100% their decision whether or not to follow the recommendation and made the actual transaction

Conclusion

We, as human being, have to realize that we have many ‘tools’ to assess our situation. Our arrogance is one of them. But what we do after that is totally our decision. Some people decides consciously, some make a decision without realizing that a decision was made. But the moment you realize that you are fully responsible of what you do, you become better person.

In this story, Marcus Einfield made a decision to follow his arrogance and trapped inside. The moment he decide to cover his mistake and protect his mistake, he decided his own fall.

BTW, a praise is in order to Australian Justice System to prove to the world that law are applicable to all including their own. Previously,  at 2004-2005, another NSW Supreme Court Judge, Jeff Shaw who involved in minor car accident and tried to hide/remove his blood sample for drink driving also has been fully scrutinized although there was no confiction due to insufficient evidence. But Mr Shaw was force into immediate resignation cited health reason.

Update May 2010:

Mr Einfield appeal has been rejected. He is serving a two-year non-parole period as part of a total sentence of three years. The court upheld the seriousness of the offence based on Einfeld’s status as a barrister and as a former judge of a superior court and its effect in striking at public confidence in the integrity of the judicial system. Einfeld is due for release in March next year.

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