At least he’s having a go, eh?

This unique defence has been wasting public and court resources for some time

Police have successfully appealed after a drink-driver had his case dismissed because he was too drunk when he rejected having a lawyer.

Darin John Buck had a charge of driving with excess breath alcohol dismissed in February by Judge Peter Butler.

Buck’s unusual defence was based on being so drunk that not only was he unable to drive, he was unable to understand the legal process.

He failed an initial breath test after being stopped on State Highway 2, Upper Hutt, in January 2013. He was taken to the police station where he spoke to a lawyer on the phone but could not deliver enough breath to do the second breath test.

A blood test was proposed so Buck said he wanted to consult a lawyer again, in accordance with his rights, but this time he could not get a lawyer on the phone.

He rang three lawyers but none answered.

Buck then told police to just “get on with it”, waiving his right to a lawyer.

Sometimes I despair when judges make rulings.  Don’t they think ahead?   It set the precedent that if you were sufficiently drunk, you aren’t responsible for your decision making.   Any idea where that would have ended up?  

Judge Butler said the difficulty was that Buck was found to have a blood-alcohol level of 245mg of alcohol per 100ml of blood when he said “Let’s get on with it”.

The legal limit was 80mg of alcohol.

The judge said the Court of Appeal had ruled that someone waiving the right to a lawyer had to do so “voluntarily, knowingly, and intelligently”.

“In my view, a man with three times the blood-alcohol level for legal driving is not capable of an intelligent assessment as to what a waiver is or that what he is waiving in the circumstances and, in my view, that renders a fatal blow to the prosecution case.”

The judge dismissed the case.

If that’s the case, people should just tank up before murdering someone, or doing a service station robbery.

But the cops wouldn’t wear that, and had to push for the decision to be reviewed.

But police appealed to the High Court.

Justice Denis Clifford said the evidence showed Buck did understand his rights – he had chosen and spoken to a lawyer already that night.

“In those circumstances, and as the police argue, there is no reason in my view to question that, when Mr Buck said ‘let’s get on with it’, that is what he meant.”

Justice Clifford allowed the police appeal.

He did not enter a conviction but sent the case back to the District Court for rehearing.

And so, even more resources and public money will get wasted by this idiot.   You were legless when you were driving you genius, stop using the courts vexatiously, have your lumps, and move on with your life.

Stop wasting our public money on trying to weasel out of the fact your life is a stuff up.

 

– Ian Steward, The Dominion Post

 


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  • Raibert

    He should be made to pay the court costs as part of his sentence.

    • Wallace Westland

      He will be.

  • so who is the bigger idiot, Darin Buck or Judge Butler?

  • jay

    Foolish judges like this don’t understand that their job is to interpret and apply the law in a pragmatic way. Ridiculous decisions like this have time and time again cost the actual lives of actual living breathing people, and once they are dead there is no appeals process that can ever bring them back.

    As for the punter and his scumbag lawyer? He is paid to act in the best interests of his client. Is it really in the best interests of this alcoholic menace though to not be held accountable for his actions? After all, if his behaviour isn’t curbed next time he might be defending a manslaughter charge.

    When their strident efforts to defend their clients result in tragedies though, lawyers always fall back on the age old whine that absolves them of all responsibility, “I was acting on the instructions of my client”, a defence similar to that used by Nazis after the war.

    Spend some time in court and you will learn that the words, “my client instructs” invariably means that what they are about to say is a lie.

    While it usually absolves them of all responsibility in this world, they can only hope that it does so also in the hereafter.

  • Sailor Sam

    It is the stupid judges in this country that must be removed.
    New Zealand has legal system as compared to a justice system.
    Would do this blog no harm to refer to our “justice” system as a “legal” system whenever it is appropriate.

  • peterwn

    Fortunately, we get some common sense decisions. For example judges up to Court of Appeal unanimously rejected the claim that a road roller was not a vehicle. Similarly Justice Woodhouse (of ACC fame now deceased) ruled that ‘driver’ needed to be given a broad interpretation in the interests of road safety (when a passenger grabbed the steering wheel). In the current case, the HC judge has properly put this one to bed.

  • Eiselmann

    When I was a wee lad I used to berate the tv news when it showed criminals committing crimes …overseas , New Zealand always struck me as a place of soft penalties and softer judges……..why commit a crime in the US and get 20 years when you could commit the same crime in NZ and get 20 weeks…..I was so naïve , I gave the NZ justice system far too much credit.

  • Maybe Parliament should pass a law that the judiciary MUST enforce laws create by societies representatives in Parliament to the full extent as Parliament creates them, instead of attempting to re-write the Law to fit their own flawed perception of how the world should work.

    It would certainly help cure a number of dud judges of their wet bus ticket restitutions.

    • OneTrack

      Time for selecting judges by democratic poll. Some of these judges seem to have zero common sense.

  • Tom

    Its nearly 5 times the limit now.

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