Lecturer shown little mercy by the courts

A DECISION by the Court of Appeal in Brisbane to uphold contempt charges against Lismore law lecturer Megumi Ogawa needs some close examination.

Ogawa made national headlines with her hysterics during her trial in Brisbane on charges of threatening Federal Court staff, including, at one point, flashing her backside at the judge, Stuart Durward.

Her actions were not those you would

expect of a rational person - and certainly not those of someone with enough of an understanding of the law to earn a law lecturer's position at Southern Cross University.

And while her actions were, at first blush, obviously contemptuous, they also raised questions about her mental state and her fitness to stand trial on the original charges.

People connected with Ogawa have previously said she clearly showed signs of mental health issues during her trial.

Her appeal against her conviction on the harassment charges, and her bid to appeal the contempt charge, was based primarily on her mental state and was backed by psychiatric assessments.

However, the Court of Appeal has seen things differently, branding Ogawa's behaviour as 'humbug' rather than the result of mental illness and has issued a warrant ordering she return to jail to serve out the remaining 38 days on her original four-month prison sentence.

Considering the things the courts don't send people to jail for, imprisoning a potentially mentally ill woman who has made

serious threats but done no actual physical violence or damage, or taken any property, but who has made the mistake of offending a judge, could easily be viewed as excessive.

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