Australia: Attorney-General for the State of Victoria v Bahonko: Judge says 'Take it outside'

Last Updated: 27 October 2011
Article by Catherine Sadleir

Attorney-General for the State of Victoria v Bahonko [2011] VSC 352 (16 September 2011)

The bizarre career of serial litigator Stanislawa Bahonko came to an end in the Supreme Court of Victoria recently when that State's Attorney General succeeded in an application to have her declared a vexatious litigant – despite Ms Bahonko making a 17th application for special leave to the High Court seeking to call a halt to the proceedings.

Ms Bahonko's court career appears to have begun in 2004 when she commenced proceedings against the Nurses' Board of Victoria, who had suspended her registration as a nurse. Two further applications to the state's Civil and Administrative Tribunal followed, and in 2006 Ms Bahonko filed a writ in the County Court's Workcover Division seeking compensation from her former employer for the termination of her employment. In the course of those proceedings she sought to subpoena the Premier, the Minister for Health, and the Minister for Police. When the judge struck out those subpoenas and refused other orders, Ms Bahonko sought leave to appeal on the basis, among other things, of the judge's perpetration of "violence and psychological abuse" against her. "She said she was unhappy with both his manner and the way he looked at her... When asked further (by the judge) wherein lay the verbal violence and psychological abuse, Ms Bahonko said it was because the judge refused her everything she was asking for. She said it was well-known in psychology that to deny everything that somebody is asking for is a form of psychological abuse".

The local shire got more than it bargained for after obtaining a default judgment for about $1800 in unpaid rates, interest and costs against Ms Bahonko in 2006. After a magistrate refused an application for a rehearing of the matter in 2008, Ms Bahonko appealed that decision to the Supreme Court on grounds including "attempts of physical violence against (Ms Bahonko) by the Magistrate... and threats of assault.. wilful mental tortures of the appellant by the Magistrate and wilful causation of emotional upset.." When the appeal was unsuccessful, Ms Bahonko sought leave to appeal further to the Court of Appeal, seeking damages from the shire council (but not the magistrate) for $100,000. Leave to appeal was refused, finally, on 8 May 2009.

Ms Bahonko's four-day trial employment stint at a child care centre led to multiple court actions being launched in the Federal Court in which she made allegations of criminal conduct and abuse of office. She sought that the judge in the case, Justice Gordon, be suspended for "having engaged in a wilful and criminal defamation" of Ms Bahonko. There were allegations of contempt made against the child care centre's legal representatives. None of the allegations was made out.

Many of the legal actions in which Ms Bahonko was involved were brought by her to the attention of the High Court, with 16 applications for special leave to appeal being made between 2005 and 2009. All were dismissed.

Ms Bahonko did not seek leave to appeal to the High Court the dismissal of two applications in the Magistrates Court for intervention orders against security guards at her local shopping centre – one named as "Unknown, Unknown". When in both cases, intervention orders were refused, Ms Bahonko appealed to the County Court.

The State's Attorney-General had had enough by September 2010 when it began the proceedings to have Ms Bahonko declared a vexatious litigant. The action was brought before Justice Forrest and a trial date, set for June this year, was then adjourned to July with orders restraining Ms Bahonko from commencing or continuing any legal proceedings in the meantime. Ms Bahonko appealed those orders to the Court of Appeal, which dismissed the appeal. Her application for special leave to the High Court on unspecified constitutional grounds also failed.

In July this year the hearing went ahead without Ms Bahonko who told the judge she was unable to attend because "a premeditated abuse of me has been committed by J Forrest and other present in the Court... which I experienced as 'psychological gang rape", violence and sadism & degrading, inhumane treatment of me as I am not a person at law... I am not able to subject myself to further sadism and abuse ... I have been abused for the last 7 years and subjected to Genocide & day to day violence..". She went on to inform the judge that "he ... will be charged with criminal responsibility for outlaw conduct on the public premises, abuse of office, tortures and crimes against humanity".

Justice Forrest has made orders declaring Ms Bahonko a vexatious litigant and restrained her from commencing or continuing proceedings in respect of all but two of her many actions. It is not known whether or not she has sought permission to appeal this latest decision.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

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