Legal procedure

Law and order proposals are “Ping-pong policies”

Both Labour and National have taken a hammering from Criminal Bar Association president Tony Bouchier.

Labour cops the worst of it though for proposing to move the burden of proof in rape cases from the prosecution tot he defence, having to prove consent occurred.

Proposed “vote-winning” law changes relating to criminal justice reform of rape cases could result in more innocent people being sent to prison, the Criminal Bar Association warns.

National and Labour say the current system is not providing justice for victims of sexual violation, and reform would make the system more victim-focused.

National wants to explore whether a judge or jury should be able to see a defendant’s refusal to give evidence in a negative light. Legal experts have called this an attack on the right to silence.    Read more »

Another good judge

People waste the court’s time all across the country, still more refuse to perform jury duty. Finally a judge has seen fit to deal to one such time waster who was taking diabolical liberties with the court.

He was supposed to be doing his civic duty and sitting on a jury – instead, James McAllister has been sentenced to prison for 10 days.

The engineering consultant was given the jail term yesterday after refusing to take the juror’s affirmation at the Auckland District Court on Wednesday.

Judge Nevin Dawson said McAllister had approached the bench to say he couldn’t sit on the jury because he was “busy at work”.

The judge did not accept the excuse and told McAllister to take his seat in the jury box.

But when it came time for the jurors to take the oath or affirmation, McAllister refused both.   Read more »

Some possible new verdicts

Imperator Fish

Scott Yorke has had a bit of a think about some possible new verdicts. I it is hard not agree with these proposed changes. SOmehow though i don;t think Justice Minister Judith Collins is going to entertain the proposals:

Guilty as sin

Criteria:  Under this verdict, the accused is so utterly, absurdly guilty that his or her continuing maintenance of innocence is an affront to all decent people.

Effect:  The effect of this verdict is that no appeal is allowed, and the accused’s lawyer is also to be tarred and feathered in a public place for allowing this insult to the justice system to continue in such a grotesque manner.

Quite guilty

Criteria:  Maybe the evidence isn’t quite all there, but we all know the bastard did it. Quite possibly the evidence is actually weak, but the guy’s body language shows he did it. Plus, the guy won’t even take the stand to testify in his own defence, which everyone knows means he’s a guilty son of a bitch, and don’t give me any of those legal niceties about the right to silence.

Effect:  Like a guilty verdict, but journalists, writers and former All Blacks will be permitted to make hay writing books about the case, and proclaiming the guilt or innocence of the person concerned.

Guilty because I don’t like him/her

Criteria:  For nailing someone the jury dislikes for no rational reason, such as the colour of their skin, their sexual preference, or their religion. For use when the evidence is weak but the accused must be punished for some offence they have caused to the jury.

Effect:  Like the Quite Guilty verdict, except that the accused is automatically entitled to one retrial in front of a more civilised group of jurors.

Not guilty but a villainous piece of work

Criteria:  Where the evidence doesn’t warrant a conviction, but where the jury aren’t convinced the accused is innocent of the crime, because the accused is such a nasty character.

Effect:  The same as an acquittal, except that the accused is to be taken to a public place, stripped down, and flogged before the news media.

Not guilty but there’s a stink about this chap that I don’t like and I won’t have him in my club

Criteria:  Similar to Not Guilty but a Villainous Piece of Work, except that the accused is not quite as repulsive or loathsome.

Effect:  Like an acquittal, but the accused is barred from joining any golf clubs, church choirs, sports teams, or Rotary clubs for five years from the date of the verdict. The acquitted subject is also to be spoken about in whispers whenever the accused is amongst friends and work colleagues.

Not guilty and a pillar of the community

Criteria:  Where the accused is white, middle-aged and wealthy.

Effect:  An acquittal. The acquitted person writes a book detailing his experiences in prison awaiting trial, the most harrowing of which involved having to use 2-ply toiletpaper.

Not guilty due to being innocent, but with reservations

Criteria:  For use where it’s clear that the accused didn’t commit the crime, but where some moral flaw on the part of the accused (e.g. he/she is an ACT MP or likes UB40) prevents the jury from being overly sympathetic.

Effect: An acquittal and a declaration that the accused is innocent, but the accused still leaves the court with his/her head hanging in shame.

Not guilty due to being innocent, should never have been tried, has been the victim of a monstrous witch-hunt by the police and Crown, and is just like Jesus

Criteria:  For use whenever a celebrity is on trial.

Effect:  An acquittal, except that the accused must accept as many hugs, marriage proposals and autograph requests as the jury may demand.

Jury Duty for the unemployed

Andrew Sullivan

Jury duty is a hassle. Most people I know avoid it like cancer, dreaming up all sorts of excuses. It may be better if we could get the unemployed, particularly white collar workers currently unemployed to do jury duty for us.

It is not a silly idea you know, Fred Clark thinks giving the unemployed preference for jury duty has some merit.

First, it reduces the frequency of jury duty for those with employment. They’d still be called to serve, but less often, thus reducing the total level of inconvenience and hassle due to missing days at work. And it would channel more of those tiny, inadequate stipends to unemployed people who could use even such trivial sums.

His vision doesn’t end there:

I want to repurpose all that mostly wasted time prospective jurors now spend sitting around and waiting and put it to use trying to find jobs for jurors. The idea is to turn jury duty into an ongoing job fair, to turn the waiting room for prospective jurors into an employment office. Job-seekers called for jury duty wouldn’t just bring a good book to read, they’d bring their résumés. The time now mostly squandered sitting around would instead be used to try to connect the unemployed with potential employers.

Now that is some thinking going on there. Discuss.