At one point, Judd struggled to find a transcript as she referred to it and voiced her frustration at the volume of evidence. The chief justice told Judd that justices had the same frustration. "But you're supposed to be taking us through [this] efficiently," the chief justice observed.
Jeremy Gans, a professor of law at Melbourne Law School, tweeted during the hearing's lunch break that the morning had been "a really bad session for the DPP [Judd]," adding that the morning had "a back foot feel for the prosecution."
When the court reconvened for the afternoon session, Judd told the judges that she did not find it necessary to address several of the Crown's points of argumentation, focusing instead on the the burden of proof, which Pell's legal team have argued was effectively reversed during the trial, leaving the cardinal to prove his innocence beyond reasonable doubt.
Judd sought to address the defence's charge that the place and manner of the first alleged assault, in the cathedral sacristy, were practically impossible in the busy circumstances.
On Wednesday, the first day of the hearing, Bret Walker, Pell's lead barrister, faced questions from the justices over the course of five hours as he presented arguments in favor of Pell's appeal, grounding his case in the findings of Victoria Justice Mark Weinberg, who made a dissenting opinion in Pell's initial appeal, which upheld his conviction last year.
Weinberg found that the cardinal had been convicted on the evidence of a single alleged victim, despite the unchallenged exculpatory testimony of as many as 20 witnesses, and that the jury could not have found him guilty beyond reasonable doubt.
Referring to the defense's presentation on Wednesday, Gans tweeted that "Pell absolutely did not have a bad day."
Walker outlined four different lines of argument, beginning with the logistics of Pell's alleged 1996 sexual assault on two teenage choristers in Melbourne's cathedral. Pell was convicted of committing acts of sexual assault on two choir boys simultaneously for five to six minutes in the cathedral sacristy, while he was fully vested after Mass. Walker suggested that would be practically impossible.
The lawyer then highlighted testimony from multiple witnesses offering an alibi for Pell during the time the assault is supposed to have taken place, and noted that the sacristy would have been a "hive of activity" at the time of the assault.
Finally, Walker pointed out changes and inconsistencies in the narrative of the sole witness-accuser to give evidence against Pell. The second alleged victim died in 2014, before the trial began; before his death he told his mother that he was not a victim of sexual abuse.
Pell's case for appeal is that a single witness, even a highly credible one, set against the testimony of so many contradictory witnesses and the high degree of improbability that Pell could have committed the assaults as described, could not have allowed the original jury to find Pell guilty beyond reasonable doubt.
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After Pell was briefed by his lawyers following Wednesday's session, friends of the cardinal told CNA that Pell is in good spirits and that he has been told to be "cautiously optimistic."
On Thursday, Judd attempted to dispel Walker's arguments, but in the process appeared to concede even further grounds for doubt.
Attempting to argue against the defense that the sacristy was a "hive of activity" at the time of the alleged assault, Judd said that the timeline and circumstances were not so certain as to be open to that defense, suggesting at the same time that the prosecution's entire narrative was itself doubtful.
Judd closed by telling the seven justices that if they found that the timeline of events showed that the assault could not have happened they would be in effect rejecting the victim's testimony.
Walker, invited to make a closing response by the justices, rounded on Judd's performance, saying that the prosecution was changing its case at every stage of appeal and even during the Thursday session.
"We should not have to deal with that kind of prosecution at this point," Walker said.