Australians are well-known for their breezy informality. But one Australian man recently found himself in the pokey, after he just could not stop himself from addressing the judge hearing his case as “mate.”
In a hearing in Ipswich Magistrates Court, Thomas John Collins, facing charges of drunken driving, driving without a license and driving an unregistered, uninsured vehicle, addressed Magis-trate Matthew McLaughlin as “mate.”
“I’m not mate . . . I’m sir or your honor,” Mc-Laughlin told Collins, according to a report in the Queensland Times.
“Okay, mate,” Collins replied.
McLaughlin ordered Collins held for contempt in the courthouse lockup, where he spent about a half-hour before coming back to court and apologizing.
Ipswich City Councillor Paul Tully defended the right of Australians to be breezy and brazen. Noting that the Collins remand followed a similar incident in Toowoomba, where a magistrate verbally keelhauled two tradesmen for “making too much noise,” threatening to charge them with contempt, Tully suggested that members of the judiciary may need anger-management counseling.
“It is getting out of control,” he said. ”Some of these magistrates see themselves as Lord of the Fiefdom.”
He said there was nothing “more Australian than calling someone mate” and it was hard to believe someone could be locked up for using the word.
“It’s probably time for magistrates to understand they have a wide variety of people before them and calling someone mate is a term of endearment,” Tully said.
“I say to every magistrate—’Come on mate, get off your high horse and show some tolerance.’”
Here in the States, we once had a cannabis-controlled client who mumbled, “whatever, dude,” when questioned by his judge. Fortunately, that judge was hard of hearing, and the client was brought under control before he could repeat such a response.