Goodnight Thief, Melbourne based lawyer and artist

Monday, 3 July, 2017

Artwork by George, AKA Goodnight Thief

George, who also goes by the pseudonym Goodnight Thief, is a Melbourne based lawyer who, come the end of the work day, puts away the statute books, and picks up a paintbrush. If anyone tries to tell you art and law don’t mix, take no notice of them.

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Got a tail? That is, are you being followed? Here’s how to shake it

Monday, 3 August, 2015

If, for whatever reason, you feel someone may be following you, there are a number of ploys at your disposal for throwing them off the trail. If you happen to be in a city area, revolving doors make for a pretty good way to gain some distance. Assuming whoever is watching you is trying to do so discretely, that is.

If you’re being followed in a busy city area, Maroney also advises using a spinning or revolving door in a commercial building. Pretend to enter the building by using the revolving doors, but actually circle all the way around and out again. The person following will get thrown off by this action and, therefore, stuck in the building.

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Paddington’s voyage, as seen by an immigration lawyer

Tuesday, 9 December, 2014

Paddington, as directed by Paul King, opens in Australian cinemas on Thursday. For those who came in late, Paddington is a teddy-bear like bear, who travels from Peru to the United Kingdom, where he is taken in by a boy who finds him at London’s Paddington railway station.

There’s one problem however, the world wandering bear is an illegal immigrant, at least in the UK. Hmm. I don’t recall that ever being a problem in the “Paddington” books I used to read, but then again that was some considerable time ago now. So what’s an orphaned young bear to do?

Colin Yeo, a London based immigration lawyer, offers a legal perspective on Paddington’s plight… put it this way, it’s no walk in the park, that’s for sure:

There are some obvious obstacles to Paddington’s reliance on the Human Rights Act 1998. Let us for the sake of argument extend its application to bears, though. Paddington quickly settles into the Brown family, who open their hearts and love him as one of their own. With his Aunt Lucy unable to care for him any longer, they are his only family. You might think, therefore, that the right to private and family life under Article 8 of the European Convention on, er, Human Rights would help him.

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How easy it is not to comply with the voice of (apparent) authority?

Monday, 27 October, 2014

Compliance (trailer) was one of the more disturbing movies I saw last year, for a number of reasons, mainly because it was based on actual events.

Then there were the depictions of a young woman, who worked at a fast food restaurant, being sexually assaulted, and the blind adherence by her manager to various instructions being issued by a man on the telephone, claiming to be a police officer.

To make matters worse, it transpired that the man was behind no fewer than seventy similar such incidents, usually targeting US fast food industry workers. In other words, no one had realised he was a serial perpetrator, and tried to issue any sort of warnings about his behaviour, or so it would seem.

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Executed for theft but not murder? Once upon a time, yes, it seems

Tuesday, 21 October, 2014

The justice system’s perception of the seriousness of an offence looks to have changed over the centuries, for instance execution appeared to be an acceptable penalty for petty theft, at least in Britain, in the seventeenth century, according to a study of transcripts of old court cases that were tried at London’s well known criminal court, the Old Bailey.

The records of the Old Bailey, London’s central criminal court, tell the tale of one John Randal, who was tried on Sept. 9, 1674. He was charged “with two Indictments, one for Fellony for stealing several pieces of Plate, and other Goods…, and the other for Murder, Killing his House-Keeper.” That his theft and his murder were described and tried together was natural for a world where the protection of property was a virtue at least on par with the promotion of human happiness. Nearly a hundred years later, in 1769, William Blackstone argued that it is quite reasonable to execute someone convicted of stealing “a handkerchief, or other trifle, privately from one’s person,” even though other crimes that involve goods of higher value are punished less severely.

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The jury selection process, how might you fare?

Friday, 29 August, 2014

Jury selection is something I’ve often wondered about… how exactly does it work, what are the chances of being deemed unsuitable (as it were), and the like. While it clearly applies to US courts, the New York Times has put together an interactive guide to the process, from a potential juror’s point of view.

Where you live, work, and your stances on a number of issues, all come into play.

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The mythical hermit who turned out to be real

Thursday, 28 August, 2014

Christopher Knight spent the best part of thirty years camping in forest land in the US state of Maine, and became the subject of local myth, even though few people knew little about him, or even if he actually existed.

While he may have seemed to lead a self-sufficient lifestyle, for one his camp site was highly organised, it was an appetite for sweets, usually sourced during midnight raids to nearby camping grounds, that was to ultimately be his undoing:

It was cold and nearly moonless, a fine night for a raid, so he hiked about an hour to the Pine Tree summer camp, a few dozen cabins spread along the shoreline of North Pond in central Maine. With an expert twist of a screwdriver, he popped open a door of the dining hall and slipped inside, scanning the pantry shelves with his penlight. Candy! Always good. Ten rolls of Smarties, stuffed in a pocket. Then, into his backpack, a bag of marshmallows, two tubs of ground coffee, some Humpty Dumpty potato chips. Burgers and bacon were in the locked freezer. On a previous raid at Pine Tree, he’d stolen a key to the walk-in, and now he used it to open the stainless-steel door. The key was attached to a plastic four-leaf-clover key chain, with one of the leaves partially broken off. A three-and-a-half-leaf clover. He could’ve used a little more luck. Newly installed in the Pine Tree kitchen, hidden behind the ice machine, was a military-grade motion detector. The device remained silent in the kitchen but sounded an alarm in the home of Sergeant Terry Hughes, a game warden who’d become obsessed with catching the thief.

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The time I decided to check myself into prison

Monday, 25 August, 2014

For most people intent, for whatever reason, on landing themselves in jail, breaking the law, somehow, is the only real option they have. Except in the US perhaps, where it is possible, in some places at least, to gain admittance to prisons as a “undercover voluntary detainee”.

Alexander Reynolds, writing for Vice, managed to qualify as such, and wrote about the few days he spent behind bars, an account that is eye opening to say the least…

I spent a few days at Towers Jail, one of the drab and functional housing units that serve the MCSO. Like the rest of the jail, it was horribly overcrowded. Built in 1982 to accommodate 360, it was bursting with 800 inmates. When I arrived, one of the guards – a huge and greasy anthropoid – fixed me with a black-eyed stare and said, “I think he needs a haircut.” It turned out that all “criminals” get their heads shaved on arrival – though only male ones; women are spared this degrading treatment.

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Film money, intricately designed prop, or a counterfeit attempt?

Friday, 15 August, 2014

Obviously filmmakers want to be as accurate as possible when it comes all aspects of their production, but the use of fake money, that is meant to look real can land them, and those who create said… funny money, in hot water.

For ISS (the company who produced the money), the premise of Rush Hour 2 had become a reality – and they were penned as the bad guy. Sadly, their story is indicative of a constant dilemma faced by prop suppliers in Hollywood: the necessity to skirt the line between strict counterfeiting laws and producers’ demands for incredibly realistic money.

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On being the victim of a stalker

Thursday, 14 August, 2014

US novelist Helen DeWitt recounts being stalked and harassed by a neighbour on her isolated rural property. A compelling read, but definitely harrowing.

If I could finish a book in two months, before winter set in, it wasn’t absolutely insane not to make a bolt for an office job. E came over the day I arrived. I said I had come to work. He said he understood. He would not come uninvited. And immediately came drifting down the road looking for odd jobs, a loan, cigarettes, a hot shower. He brought a paraffin lamp before Hurricane Sandy. He showed me how to use my chainsaw, cut up a fallen tree, brought a splitter for the logs. He made a sawhorse for chainsaw work adapted to my height. He stayed to talk. And talk. And talk.

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