Franks on Gang Case

Stephen Franks comments on the Red Devils case where an activist judge let 21 harden gang members get away with their crimes:

Herald writer John Roughan puts the layman’s case against Simon France J’s stay of the Red Devil prosecutions mentioned in my Thursday post.

Though he probably feels no need for them, there is also legal logic against what the judge did. Hopefully it will be tested on appeal in this case.

Having now read the judgment I can understand the judge’s outrage. I would not have been as charitable as him about the police serving up a late-manufactured purported ops manual entry.

From the judge’s account there should be prosecutions for false swearing or some other perjury or serious deceit charge.

But on the judge’s own statement the deceptions, including the deceits involved in being undercover, have no connection to the charges he then stayed, including the evidence on them.

So his reaction is no different in principle from the operating strategy of terrorism – injure innocent third parties to coerce those you think should obey you.

Terrorists believe their purposes over ride all others. Their objectives are so pure that the suffering of those they injure as tools is just a necessary price. Their ends justify their means.

Comparing a Judges actions to those of terror organisations is certainly novel.

Or when they have to acknowledge the hurt of those they choose to sacrifice, they may impute collective guilt to the whole class who may be victims (capitalists, citizens of the great Satan, Christians, Jews, night club patrons, Shia – to Sunni and Sunni to Shia)to justify hurting innocents with no power to make the decisions sought by terrorists.

They often turn to terrorism because they can’t overcome safeguards in the usual procedures (such as persuading voters, or getting a privilege or decision in due process).

The Red Devil case judicial approach is indistinguishable.

The case against the Judge strengthens.

Judges who trash prosecutions to punish breaches by particular Police officers seem to feel they have no lawful direct power over those they want to control or to punish. Perhaps the lawful procedure has what they consider to be inadequate sentence. Perhaps the process is cumbersome or gets less attention.

Welcome to the law as citizens experience it every day.

But citizens are told smugly that they have no excuse for taking remedies into their own hands. And they certainly have no excuse for taking their deterrent vengeance to an organisation that employs the wrongdoer. Do we see support from judges for wronged individuals taking out their frustration on associates or colleagues of the wrongdoers?

As John Roughan makes plain, staying a prosecution punishes the community, and perhaps not even the police officers who are culpable.

Yes, the actions of the judge do punish the citizens of Nelson. He is an activist and petulant Judge.

Those who pay the highest price for a stay are the next victims of offenders who would have been in custody or deterred by the charges proceeding. Next comes the community’s trust in the law.

If the consequence is the emboldening of a gang the outcomes of this application of the terrorist approach could be as dire as the physical harm of “normal” terrorism. To the extent crime rates generally are affected by any obvious ineffectiveness of the law the decision could have as many victims as a bomb targetting random innocents. The bomber says ” I destroy or kill something or someone valuable to you if you do not behave as I want”.

While Judge sit aloof in their courts they run the risk of losing touch with the communities they are supposed to serve. This si the problem we face with tenured, padded and cosseted judges. This problem is exacerbated when they are FIFO (Fly in, Fly out) judges as is the case with Simon France. He is based in Wellington and so can safely go home while 21 hardened criminals roam the streets of Nelson as a result of his decision.

Stephen Franks makes a reasoned and sage assessment of the travesty of this judicial activism, many including me are not so subtle.


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As much at home writing editorials as being the subject of them, Cam has won awards, including the Canon Media Award for his work on the Len Brown/Bevan Chuang story. When he’s not creating the news, he tends to be in it, with protagonists using the courts, media and social media to deliver financial as well as death threats.

They say that news is something that someone, somewhere, wants kept quiet. Cam Slater doesn’t do quiet and, as a result, he is a polarising, controversial but highly effective journalist who takes no prisoners.

He is fearless in his pursuit of a story.

Love him or loathe him, you can’t ignore him.

To read Cam’s previous articles click on his name in blue.

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