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Monday, June 29, 2009

Respects to Power


Judges may get inquisitor role in sex-crime cases
Justice Minister Simon Power has asked the Law Commission to investigate introducing a European-style inquisitorial justice system in sexual offending cases. Despite the outcry following the David Bain trial, Mr Power said he had no intention of overhauling the adversarial-style system used here where the role of the judge is essentially that of an impartial referee. But he said the inquisitorial system, where the judge is involved in collecting and determining the facts of the case, could have its uses in victim-intensive situations such as sexual offending and child abuse.

Now while I am no great fan of Simon Power’s, let’s see, he has played up Prison being a 3 star hotel and adult Disneyland to the media induced crime frightened NZers more than any other politician and must share a large chunk of the responsibility for creating the shrill public discourse that calls only for the lynchmob AND he tried to have Tumeke shut down. That said, it’s good to see him being open to wanting changes within the system that he can clearly see are lacking. Would we accept an inquisitorial style for sex crimes and an adversarial style for everything else?

4 Comments:

At 29/6/09 2:51 p.m., Anonymous McJacksonBurger said...

He tried to get tumeke shut off? Could you link to that for me please?

 
At 29/6/09 4:17 p.m., Blogger Jeff said...

Completely agree with both you and Simon Power (god who would of thought would agree with him) on this one.

As it stands rape trials are completely unfair on the victims, who not only get the total indencecy of being abused in the worst way possible, with the excemption of rape, but then have to go through the whole process painstakingly and then to make matters worse have their character totally desimated by the defence lawyer as the question is often over consent. Rape conviction rates are horrible (though I understand better in NZ than some other countries). Adding to this is the purported fact that most people do not even report being raped.

Rape is an area which I personally thing has the most serious issues with dealing with at the moment and an inquisitorial system I think would definitely suit this crime more.

The primary problem I see is getting the people with the techinical skills to both a) work it from the courts angle (i.e. Judges) but more difficultly finding sufficient defense and trial lawyers to take the cases using essentially a completely different system of law.

Further I guess this would mean trials which contain rape and murder / other charges would be under a dual jurisdiction? (thinking in the case of multiple rapes with one murder charge - i.e. serial rapists etc).

 
At 29/6/09 5:53 p.m., Blogger Bomber said...

He tried to get tumeke shut off? Could you link to that for me please?

Tell me about it, silly bugger thought there were computers for prisoners to use and that Tim was blogging about prison life from within prison. He called for Tumeke to be shut down until it was pointed out that I was typing in his letters. He bought his own bullshit about prisons being internet connected, plasma TV, underfloor heated 3 star hotels. I think he realized he'd made a bit of a dick of himself and backed down a bit.

Jeff, I agree. Something as inane as 1% of sexual assaults get convictions in Court and the gruelling nature of the current system leaves a lot to be desired. That said, part of me does find issue with the idea of reducing a persons inate legal right to be judged by your peers. What are your thoughts on the persons right to a jury, it's a pretty crucial defence and there's been a lot of reducing threshold protections of late and I'd hate to push ahead with a new one.

 
At 30/6/09 10:26 a.m., Blogger Jeff said...

Bomber,

My thoughts re juries are two fold. On the one hand I think they allow certain things to be considered, which officially are not considered but which we really would want considered. Examples are those rear cases where a set of facts like a guy comes home, wife being raped, and the rapist gets shot in 'self defence'. Often if one looked at that objectively the perpetrator could be dealt with without being shot, and accordingly the force was unreasonable, juries can look through the facts in these sort of cases and go not guilty, which historically they often have.

On the other hand cases are getting increasingly complex, scientific evidence is pretty extreme these days, and cases often go on for around a month. Further the 'quality' of jury is often questionable with allot of people getting off for 'commitments' it sort of waters down the avaliable people for jury service. Since these cases are often very complex it is questionable in the complex cases whether it is the best way of trialing alleged criminals.

Accordingly I guess my view comes down in sort of a split decision. I think cases where the status quo seems to work, i.e. murder cases, serious assaults etc, nothing need be changed, I dont agree with 11 / 12 on a murder charge for example.

However in an area which is clearly failing the true victims, the person the crime is against, I am quite in favour of some pretty radical overhauls in the long term, which are well thought out and not rushed. Rape is the main area I can think of in this regard. I think an inquisitoral system, with adequate specialists to make such a system work is desirable for this catergory of crimes.

Finally in regards to relative minor crime, i.e. Car Jackings, theft etc I would be in favour of moving away from the right to a jury, but also moving at the same time to "sentences" which tend away from prison, which dont help society or the perpectrators of those crimes, or the alternative at the moment of community service which doesnt seem to be a deterent either.

Car got broken into last week by some seriously incompentent thieves, cops asked what I wanted, said them just not to do it any more. Think thats what our system goal should be for the lower end of crime, and the serious end (rape, murder, serious assaults) needs to look at ways of better protecting the wider community. I dont have the solution for that though.

 

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