Russell Haig Mathews with his dog Pyosik and supporter Robert Cronin at Ipswich Court yesterday.
Russell Haig Mathews with his dog Pyosik and supporter Robert Cronin at Ipswich Court yesterday. Ross Irby

Vexatious litigant's request refused

ARMED with a law degree and donning his trademark bushy hat, Russell Mathews called for an Ipswich magistrate to disqualify himself from hearing a case against him.

Mathews lost a case in July when the Magistrate David Shepherd allowed Ipswich City Council legal access to his yard at Brisbane Rd, Booval to remove illegal structures that held up his big signs criticising politicians, the police, and the courts.

The 69-year-old free speech advocate yesterday made his unsuccessful application to remove Mr Shepherd from hearing his case because of the earlier decision.

He has a long history of court matters and is officially regarded as being a serial litigant.

Russell Gordon Haig Mathews is pleading not guilty to a charge of displaying obscene publications and exhibitions between February 1 and February 4 this year.

Dressed in blue workman's boots and singlet, with his bushman's hat on his head after getting permission from the magistrate during a previous court matter, he represented himself before Ipswich Magistrates Court.

In the police case prosecuted by Jack Scott, Mathews argued that the matter should go before the District Court, claiming, "this court does not have jurisdiction".

He said Mr Shepherd had made the previous decision and should disqualify himself.

"It's a matter for the District Court. If I'm not happy with that I can look at the Court of Appeal. If I'm not happy with that I can go to the High Court," Mathews said.

Mr Shepherd said Mathews made his application that the magistrate disqualify himself from hearing the charge on two grounds, "that I've been appointed to my position by corrupt governments and not able to make a fair determination".

"And that on July 26 I made a decision in favour of Ipswich City Council to remove signs form his property.

"He says these are reasons why".

Mr Scott said Queensland Police did not need to make a submission on this.

Mr Shepherd said Mathews provided a substantial body of material that he had read.

This included psychiatric reports that he had been diagnosed with mental health issues that led him into conflict with various authorities.

Mr Shepherd said it was his view that nothing had been raised where a reasonable lay-observer would have any apprehension that he would not be impartial.

"His application is refused," he said.

Mr Shepherd noted Mathews was on the Vexatious Litigants list on the court website.

A Notice of Appeal matter he also spoke of did not make legal sense and did not prevent the charge against Mathews proceeding.

Raising concern about potential mental health issues raised by Mathews that clearly went to his fitness to stand trial, Mr Shepherd ordered that he meet with the court mental health liaison officer and that an assessment report be completed.

His matter was adjourned to August 30.



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