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Thursday, October 06, 2011

In absentia sentencing

I've just come from the Opotiki District courthouse and am posting this at the local library internet.

I'd been waiting around the court all day for someone's sentencing to come up, but had to make a meeting across town. I saw a nephew of the defendant inside and gave him my mobile number and asked him to text should he be called. He said the registrars would put him at the end of the day.

I got a text saying to hurry back as he was appearing - then another "he's in the dock now." So I rush back and in the courtroom there's no-one in the dock. Odd. I sit down and the nephew says he's been taken from the dock. ? So what's going on, I wonder? The judge is reading something out and mentions his name. So the sentencing is still going ahead then - even though he's not present. Eh? How could this be.

I had been asked to appear as a legal representative to support his case (and I had my notes with me) so I have to interrupt the Judge and walked to the gate. I identified myself and explained I was to present his submission. The Judge asked whether I was a lawyer. I replied I did not have a practicing certificate and asked for leave. He declined. So - flomoxed and still out of breath from the run - I returned to my seat. The nephew and I exchanged glances - what was going on?

The Judge mentions submissions so I had to interject - I had his submission with me now, and the court would not release the case file to me even though I had given them a letter with the defendant's instruction to do so. He cut me off and said if I spoke again I would be dealt with (not sure whether he said he'd kick me out or jail me as such but it was clear that I was not allowed to speak).

So the judge starts going through the sentencing stuff and making a big deal about the trivialities and claiming DoC officers were members of the community who deserved to be protected and were the victims and claiming the defendant was aggressive. That you can't just do what you want and obstruct... And ... So I had to stick up my hand again - at some risk this time - and tell the judge that I could deal with the Doc issues in a submission that would take only one minute. The judge said he's warned me and told me anything more and he would (jail me/kick me out etc.). Now I had seen Judge Rollo (I believe it is) [According to the Opotiki News it was the same Judge that convicted him, Thomas Ingram.] in action through the hours of waiting around so I knew I couldn't risk another interjection. So on the judge went - through all of the things I could have rebutted with my submission - but seeing as I wasn't allowed to and seeing as how the defendant himself wasn't even present the Judge was talking to himself. There was no defence allowed. In absentia sentencing? In this day and age? I learnt from his nephew that he has turned his back to the judge and addressed the public gallery. And? And that's it - that was enough for him to be ejected at his own sentencing. Astounding. Is it because he's Maori?

The registrars have refused - repeatedly - to release his file to me - even with the defendant's explicit instructions in writing - so it is they who are guilty of obstruction. It is the Judge refusing to permit me to defend the accused who is doing the obstruction in this case. So upon leaving the court I told the Judge it was he who was obstructing. I did what I could. I'm appalled and dismayed - and angry.

Mississippi goddamn.



At 6/10/11 6:57 pm, Blogger Sam Hill said...

What is this country coming to.

At 6/10/11 7:06 pm, Blogger Tar and Feather The Bastards said...


This HAS to be immeadiately appealed. . . It sounds like it's some sort of Fisheries thingie(???) or somesuch, but according to the court system seems fairly trivial, but this is appalling. You had instructions from the defendant. What happened to "friend-of-the-court" status - would that apply . . surely that would apply to you ? ! ? ! I know ur a busy boy but private prosecution for obstruction of justice against the clerks. And some sort of offence against his rights. . . .don't think they expect "smart" maoris on the east coast Tim.

At 6/10/11 7:06 pm, Blogger Morgan said...

I'm apalled and dismayed - and angry.

Perhaps your friend would have been served better if you'd been a practising lawyer as well as being appalled and dismayed.

What did you expect?

At 6/10/11 9:09 pm, Blogger BobbyD said...

Sounds like it's because he's a knob and the colour of his skin had nothing to do with it.

The courts bend over backwards to deal with Maori issues and to be seen to be culturally sensitive.

I hope the video is meant as a joke and your not making an honest comparison here.

At 6/10/11 10:46 pm, Blogger Rangi said...

That's fucked up Tim. It sounds like you did your best to help your friend.

It's wrong what the judge did. And worse it's not fair. I thought NZ was all about giving people a fair go.

At 7/10/11 9:07 am, Blogger JP said...

Screwed himself over by defending himself. All self litigants go to the bottom of the court list because the judges know that they pull time wasting stuff like this. Next time at least get a duty lawyer to be your sock puppet for whatever sumbissions you want to make. Then you won't have to wait around all day.

Is there something stopping your mate giving you his own file? Incompetence? Can't be bothered paying for photocopying?


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