Hard News by Russell Brown

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Hard News: Behaving badly at the bottom of town

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  • Sam F,

    Although there’s a faint attempt at feigning outrage in the text, the real emotion of the paper’s holiday-season editors on discovering that a “celebrity” was in court over a minor social infraction – and that he had been granted interim name suppression – must surely have been celebratory. Who could have expected such a windfall in the silly season?

    For services to circulation...

    This may be the year I quit clicking through to Herald stories critiqued on the web - suspect it only encourages them.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 1549 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha,

    Russell, you've proven here (and Idiot/Savant likewise) that it's not impossible to put together a brief story about the suppressed Urewera trial arrangements. Delving into the legislative changes a few years back that made them possible would even lend itself to a longer article.

    So (skeletal staff notwithstanding) why no mention at all in any of our media outlets?

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 16470 posts Report Reply

  • Idiot Savant,

    So (skeletal staff notwithstanding) why no mention at all in any of our media outlets?

    The charitable interpretation is that the Auckland High Court has been closed since xmas eve, and won't open until Monday, so no-one can get a proper copy of the judgement to confirm they are able to report. Of course, the relevant documents are floating around on the internet.

    I am surprised that they're not also leaping on the story of the website (which we shouldn't name, to avoid contributory breaches) being prosecuted for breaching the suppression order. They could report ont hat without naming names. But I guess its only news if its WhaleOil.

    Palmerston North • Since Nov 2006 • 1630 posts Report Reply

  • giovanni tiso,

    The "now the Uruwera 18 will be martyred and they don't deserve it", which was the tenor of a very ungeneorous tweet of Craig's after the news came out, is something I could have personally done without from you too, Russell. It's not about either of you, you know?

    Wellington • Since Jun 2007 • 7351 posts Report Reply

  • Alastair Thompson,

    We (Scoop) were shocked at the decision.

    Only in the circumstances apart from running Valerie Morse's PR there wasn't much we could do. And we did in fact have to pull it and re-word it to fit within the suppression order at the time.

    al

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 176 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown, in reply to giovanni tiso,

    The “now the Uruwera 18 will be martyred and they don’t deserve it”, which was the tenor of a very ungeneorous tweet of Craig’s after the news came out, is something I could have personally done without from you too, Russell. It’s not about either of you, you know?

    And yet you seem to be suggesting it is. I don’t really understand that comment. I made no comment about whether they're "deserving" or not, because it seems pointless to try and do so.

    But I think it’s a straightforward and valid point: in denying the accused the right to be tried by a jury of their peers, the judge has ensured that a fairly substantial part of the public will not regard any verdict as valid. He has locked in a permanent, and justified, grievance against the system.

    I don’t see where it’s my job to be “generous” by pretending otherwise.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 18693 posts Report Reply

  • Idiot Savant,

    But I think it’s a straightforward and valid point: in denying the accused the right to be tried by a jury of their peers, the judge has ensured that a fairly substantial part of the public will not regard any verdict as valid. He has locked in a permanent, and justified, grievance against the system.

    And I don't think you have to view the accused as guilty in order to see that as a problem. The justice system is undermining itself here. And that's not good regardless of the particular case in question.

    Palmerston North • Since Nov 2006 • 1630 posts Report Reply

  • Joe Wylie,

    Keith Locke, three years ago, being naively optimistic:

    "Reportedly, any court cases resulting from the terrorism raids may take until 2009 to be resolved. In the wake of costly Crown mistakes made during the Zaoui case which lengthened the proceedings considerably, it would be wise for the Prime Minister to refrain from any further comments that could taint the legal proceedings."

    flat earth • Since Jan 2007 • 3370 posts Report Reply

  • giovanni tiso, in reply to Russell Brown,

    I don’t see where it’s my job to be “generous” by pretending otherwise

    Coupled with the jibe about Morse's 'hyperventilating' press release, by pointing out that the prosecution is a recipe for martyrdom you are shifting who is being victimised here from the defendants to the public. The public will cope, you know, in fact I'm pretty sure it will continue not giving a toss about civil rights, as it has thus far.

    Wellington • Since Jun 2007 • 7351 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha, in reply to giovanni tiso,

    I'm pretty sure it will continue not giving a toss about civil rights, as it has thus far

    A bigger story, yes

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 16470 posts Report Reply

  • Graeme Edgeler,

    in denying the accused the right to be tried by a jury of their peers, the judge has ensured that a fairly substantial part of the public will not regard any verdict as valid. He has locked in a permanent, and justified, grievance against the system.

    She.

    Wellington, New Zealand • Since Nov 2006 • 2994 posts Report Reply

  • HORansome,

    Come come, there's no need to bring up that book by Henry Rider Haggard.

    Tāmaki Makaurau • Since Sep 2008 • 408 posts Report Reply

  • giovanni tiso, in reply to Sacha,

    A bigger story, yes

    Perhaps, but in the meantime we may also wish to pause and express unsmirking sympathy towards fellow citizens who are being denied due process.

    Wellington • Since Jun 2007 • 7351 posts Report Reply

  • Matthew Poole, in reply to Idiot Savant,

    The charitable interpretation is that the Auckland High Court has been closed since xmas eve, and won't open until Monday, so no-one can get a proper copy of the judgement to confirm they are able to report. Of course, the relevant documents are floating around on the internet.

    Similarly, being the silly season, it's likely that the legal department is also on holiday. This decision can wait a couple of weeks before being examined in the media - no editor in their right mind would risk running a story on this that hasn't been approved by the lawyers - and it's not of such immediate, imminent significance that it needs to be aired right now. If we get to mid-January and there's still nothing, then I'll start getting twitchy.

    The bigger issue, for me, is that this is even possible. I get that there are concerns around "methods" and "sources" and the general guff that goes with classified information, but it's not insurmountable. Summaries of classified material are provided to defence lawyers in national security cases overseas to avoid the time and expense of vetting, and I don't see why similar couldn't be done for a jury with this trial. Even with National's offensive short-cutting of the court system these charges would still qualify for defendants to elect a jury trial.

    The pit from whence crawl… • Since Mar 2007 • 3898 posts Report Reply

  • Graeme Edgeler, in reply to Matthew Poole,

    The bigger issue, for me, is that this is even possible. I get that there are concerns around “methods” and “sources” and the general guff that goes with classified information, but it’s not insurmountable. Summaries of classified material are provided to defence lawyers in national security cases overseas to avoid the time and expense of vetting, and I don’t see why similar couldn’t be done for a jury with this trial.

    I haven't read the judgment, but I very much doubt that this forms the basis for the decision (on the basis that that wouldn't be a lawful basis for the decision). Criminal trials in New Zealand (whether judge and jury or judge alone) cannot hear secret evidence, and the prosecution cannot rely on evidence they won't give to the defence.

    I cannot see the reason for a judge alone trial being anything other than "the trial is likely to take three months, and the chance that with a jury that it would be more complicated, and take longer, and possibly have to be abandoned would be substantially higher than normal".

    Even with National’s offensive short-cutting of the court system these charges would still qualify for defendants to elect a jury trial.

    Yes, and they also qualify under Labour's changes (supported by National and others) to be heard by judge alone on application of the prosecution :-)

    Wellington, New Zealand • Since Nov 2006 • 2994 posts Report Reply

  • Joe Wylie, in reply to HORansome,

    Come come, there’s no need to bring up that book by Henry Rider Haggard.

    Some believe that Haggard's novel, with its depiction of the struggle against the despotic 2000-year-old Queen Ayesha, was a thinly veiled attack on the political stasis of the late Victorian era (Dear Ghod, when is she ever going to die?). If Clark had won a fourth term it just might have gained a bit of renewed traction . . .

    flat earth • Since Jan 2007 • 3370 posts Report Reply

  • Ian Dalziel,

    She'll be right...
    'Victorian Steam Phunk' aside, it must be admitted that She does have good legal credentials - it being the source of Horace Rumpole's "She-Who-Must-Be-Obeyed" in John Mortimer's classic TV Series.

    Christchurch • Since Dec 2006 • 4660 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown, in reply to giovanni tiso,

    Coupled with the jibe about Morse's 'hyperventilating' press release, by pointing out that the prosecution is a recipe for martyrdom you are shifting who is being victimised here from the defendants to the public.

    Okay, I don't want a scrap, honest. I did think Morse's statement was OTT, and I disapprove of what I understand to be her actions in this case. But we'll let the court sort that out.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 18693 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown, in reply to Graeme Edgeler,

    I cannot see the reason for a judge alone trial being anything other than “the trial is likely to take three months, and the chance that with a jury that it would be more complicated, and take longer, and possibly have to be abandoned would be substantially higher than normal”.

    Pretty good guess. It seems the defence argued in its turn that decisions made by a judge only would be less readily accepted.

    It does strike me that the judge could have revealed more of his reasoning, even if only by structuring the text of the original decision to facilitate that course.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 18693 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha, in reply to Russell Brown,

    the judge could have revealed more of his reasoning

    her :)

    I cannot see the reason for a judge alone trial being anything other than

    I haven't read enough background (and it's too late in the year), but isn't there a quite separate set of criteria operating in this case on national security grounds? Though how that fits with what I recall as the failure of the original terrorism-oriented charges seems intriguiing.

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 16470 posts Report Reply

  • Phil Lyth,

    I cannot see the reason for a judge alone trial being anything other than “the trial is likely to take three months, and the chance that with a jury that it would be more complicated, and take longer, and possibly have to be abandoned would be substantially higher than normal”

    In recent times a jury coped with a three month trial and delivered a verdict - 6 March - 5 June 2009 in Christchurch. That was the Bain retrial. I am only mentioning the length, not making any comment about what happened.

    Wellington • Since Apr 2009 • 443 posts Report Reply

  • Idiot Savant, in reply to Russell Brown,

    It does strike me that the judge could have revealed more of his reasoning, even if only by structuring the text of the original decision to facilitate that course.

    Sadly, those structuring decisions mean that her reasoning is not subject to public scrutiny, and some bits of it are not going to receive the contempt and outrage they thoroughly deserve.

    Palmerston North • Since Nov 2006 • 1630 posts Report Reply

  • Craig Ranapia,

    The "now the Uruwera 18 will be martyred and they don't deserve it", which was the tenor of a very ungeneorous tweet of Craig's after the news came out, is something I could have personally done without from you too, Russell. It's not about either of you, you know?

    First, Gio, you've earned my first "kiss my 'roids" of 2011 five and a half hours early. Win!

    Yes darling, the spectacle of people being denied trail by jury without very good reason indeed is about me. It's about Russell. It's also about you, your wife and daughter. It's about all of us, and every other citizen of this country who is entitled to due process and a fair trial -- whether it is politically convenient for the Government of the day and/or the Police or not.

    And I will continue being spectacularly "ungenerous" towards people like Simon Power, Judith Collins, their shadow numpties on the Labour front benches and their ignoramus enablers in the media who think my rights and protections against overweening state power are an optional extra. (I'll do you the courtesy of skipping the epic man-splain of how hard won the right to trial by jury was, and what kind of abuses it was meant to mitigate.)

    And as we're already seeing, the prosecutors could present a rock solid case and secure convictions that would bear scrutiny under and electron microscope, and this idiotic decision has just given the usual suspects grounds (fairly or not) to scream "show trial" at the top of their lungs. If the prosecution doesn't have a solid case that can withstand a vigorous defence and the scrutiny of a jury, it deserves to go down.

    Yes, Gio, I think that's a form of martyrdom nobody deserves because everyone is entitled to a trial that is not only fair but seen to be fair. Especially when, as far as I'm aware (and evidence to the contrary may be forthcoming) we're hardly talking about Te Quaeda but something more closely resembling a tragicomic farce.

    ETA: Oh, and thanks heaps for putting me in a foul frigging mood I'm going to have to shake off more quickly than usual. Not really how I want to go to a New Years Eve party or see in the new year.

    North Shore, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 11859 posts Report Reply

  • DeepRed,

    Ladies & gents, welcome to Prolesec Inc.

    The southernmost capital … • Since Nov 2006 • 4154 posts Report Reply

  • giovanni tiso, in reply to Craig Ranapia,

    And I will continue being spectacularly "ungenerous" towards people like Simon Power, Judith Collins, their shadow numpties on the Labour front benches and their ignoramus enablers in the media who think my rights and protections against overweening state power are an optional extra.

    Actually, I thought you were being ungenerous to the defendants - who were handed a martyrdom they didn't deserve. But apparently you meant just the opposite, I take it. Good.

    Wellington • Since Jun 2007 • 7351 posts Report Reply

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