‘Cowardice’: Police probe into vile online attacks on judge
THE legal community has collectively slammed ongoing putrid and "cowardly" online comments directed towards a Cairns judge which are now the subject of a police investigation.
Judge Dean Morzone has been the target of online slurs for months - including unfounded allegations of criminal behaviour and bias, and threats of violence - predominantly on multiple local Facebook crime groups.
The Cairns Post has sighted posts dating as far back as 2017, just three years after he was sworn in and appointed to the Cairns District Court.
Judge Morzone has recently had two of his decisions appealed by the Attorney-General - one involving a Mena Creek child pornography offender who received jail time on appeal, while a decision is still pending on a grievous bodily harm involving a king hit in a Cairns McDonald's restaurant.
Many of the online comments were too vile to be reproduced.
A police spokeswoman said they would not give details on the probe, but confirmed it was underway.
"As this is an ongoing investigation we are unable to provide any comment today," she said.
She confirmed Brisbane-based officers were involved.
The online slurs prompted outrage from both the local and state legal fraternity with former Queensland Law Society president Bill Potts labelling those involved "keyboard cowards" taking on someone who was working to serve the public.
"I'm calling on whoever these cowards are to not only show respect, but show a modicum of decency," he said.
"Insulting and threatening judges from the anonymity of their bedroom shows nothing more than cowardice and, quite frankly, stupidity.
"Judges are under the most incredible pressure. On one hand, the job they have administering justice every day under crushing workload, and also the public criticism."
Mr Potts said judges were "not beyond criticism", but there was an appeal process if someone was unhappy with a decision, or any issues with the justice system itself should be taken up with local politicians.
Cairns-based solicitor and principal of Osborne Butler Lawyers, Scott Osborne said those responsible for the cyber attacks could potentially face serious charges including using the internet to make threats, menace, harass and offend, through to intimidation of a judicial officer.
The latter carries a maximum penalty of seven years jail.
"It is important to remember that once posts/comments are published on the internet they can be copied, pasted and shared at the will of others (long after the author has cooled down and perhaps regretted making the comment)," he said.
Originally published as 'Cowardice': Police probe into vile online attacks on Cairns judge