Parents could lose their houses in school defamation case
A GROUP of Queensland parents who face the prospect of losing their homes after they were accused of defaming a school principal in a series of Facebook posts, are set to have their case heard by a judge alone.
But Mr Goldsmith, who is acting for TMSHS parents Donna and Miguel Baluskas, said Ms Arnold and Ms Proudlock may change their mind, and that another parent who has been sued, Laura Lawson, had told him she didn't wish to have the case heard by a jury.
Judge David Kent said that many litigants were not aware that they "were going to have to stump up quite a lot of cash" by July 12 to pay for the jury panel.
"It seems like … that when people worked out they were going to be given a bill for (the jury) they worked out that they don't really want a jury," Judge Kent said.
Judge Kent says the issue of whether a jury will decide the case will be finalised on Friday.
Mr and Mrs Baluskas did not want a jury, and neither did TMSHS principal Tracey Brose, who has sued five parents for a total of more than $1 million - $220,000 from each - claiming her reputation and feelings has been injured and she has suffered "social damage".
Ms Brose claims online comments, viewed by 8200 people on a change.org petition and on the Tamborine Mountain Facebook page in March 2016, damaged her.
According to court documents, the comments included that she expelled poorer-performing students to stop them sitting exams in a bid to pump up the school's scores, and was a bully.
The case could expose any complaints made about Mrs Brose's role as principal over the four years until 2016, after the Director General of the state's Education department was ordered to hand over "any complaints" from students, parents, guardians or staff at TMSHS.
If the case proceeds before a judge alone it has a higher likelihood of being set for hearing in October, and not being delayed until next year due to more evidence and witnesses, the court heard.
Holly Blattman, counsel for Ms Brose, told the court on Friday that Ms Brose was "desperate" to keep the trial in October and "we will move heaven and earth" to ensure it is not put off until next year.
"I'm sure everybody wants this litigation to be over," Judge Kent said.
The case returns to court on Friday for a full-day hearing on whether parts of Mrs Brose's claim against Mr and Mrs Baluskas should be struck out.