Legal Beagle by Graeme Edgeler

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Legal Beagle: 14 Pages of Democracy

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  • Phil Lyth, in reply to nzlemming,

    Briefings to Incoming Ministers

    I've spoken to a person in the PM's office. NZ can expect proactive release of the briefings in the New Year.

    To my mind, they'd be mad to not take advantage of the slow news weeks mid-Jan to early-Februrary, but we'll see.

    Wellington • Since Apr 2009 • 443 posts Report Reply

  • Gareth Ward,

    The whole thing kinda reads like an Ian McEwan novel...

    Auckland, NZ • Since Mar 2007 • 1722 posts Report Reply

  • Jeremy Eade,

    It shows how important the floating vote is. How many of Waitakere decided that day? If it was 100 then they decided that vote. Maybe polls that close should be redone.

    auckland • Since Mar 2008 • 1112 posts Report Reply

  • Phil Lyth, in reply to Jeremy Eade,

    Can’t remember precisely but research by Vowles Boston and others after past elections suggests quite a high proportion of voters decide on the day and even at the polling booh. 10% – 20%? That would be far in excess of 100.

    Wellington • Since Apr 2009 • 443 posts Report Reply

  • Jeremy Eade, in reply to Phil Lyth,

    That number seems incredibly high when you consider the combined polls got most percentages by 2-3%.

    auckland • Since Mar 2008 • 1112 posts Report Reply

  • DeepRed, in reply to Ian Dalziel,

    *Mutually Assured Destruction

    Surely you didn’t mean, Mutually Assured Demagoguery?

    The southernmost capital … • Since Nov 2006 • 4431 posts Report Reply

  • nzlemming, in reply to Phil Lyth,

    Thanks Phil.

    Waikanae • Since Nov 2006 • 2208 posts Report Reply

  • Christopher Dempsey,

    I took an implication from that that there may have been some malice/corruption during the original count on the part of those doing the counting, which is very disappointing if true.

    You could, if charitable, take the view that polling staff were tired and as Craig has noted, unfocussed, having been at their station from 7am or so. Mistakes are bound to be made.

    Parnell / Tamaki-Auckland… • Since Sep 2008 • 642 posts Report Reply

  • Evan Yates,

    Are you saying MADness, takes its toll?

    Not for very much longer…

    Hamiltron, Te Ika-a-Māui • Since Nov 2006 • 190 posts Report Reply

  • Arthur on MemeSpree NZ,

    Honestly, if more judges were willing to write in plain (which doesn't mean simple, necessarily) English, I think the country would be a lot better off. My favourite bit is point [42]:

    [42] At approximately 8:15pm on the Wednesday evening a National Party scrutineer, Mr Mark Brickell, requested that I ask police to guard the building. He submitted that, if word leaked out that the vote seemed closer than the official count, there might be an attempt to interfere with the voting forms. I saw no evidence of any such risk; the suggestion had not been made earlier; the police were likely to have more productive tasks on hand; the building seemed secure. I provided a hand-written decision which gave my reasons. I permitted either party to employ security guards to attend outside the building provided they notified me, and I gave them my cellphone number for that purpose. I received no call.

    In the morning the ballot papers were still where I had left them.

    Also: does anyone else get the impression that the National party scrutineers came in with a bigger axe to grind, or is that just me?

    Leitthfield Beach, NZ • Since Nov 2011 • 3 posts Report Reply

  • DeepRed, in reply to Arthur on MemeSpree NZ,

    Also: does anyone else get the impression that the National party scrutineers came in with a bigger axe to grind, or is that just me?

    The very same Mark Brickell mentioned in the Red Alert post I linked to in my Paula Bennett post.

    The southernmost capital … • Since Nov 2006 • 4431 posts Report Reply

  • Jackie Clark,

    I love the way this is written. So transparent, so easy to understand, and so fabulously subjective. And the figure that appalled me was the 300 odd people who voted, but because they weren't on the electoral roll, their votes didn't count. Silly, silly, silly.

    Mt Eden, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 3123 posts Report Reply

  • Paul Campbell,

    given that we're all legally required to be on the electoral roll the elections people should be following up those 300 people, not with fines or anything, but with an aggressive attempt to get them enrolled - perhaps starting with a card in the mail "So, your vote wasn't counted because ...."

    Dunedin • Since Nov 2006 • 2200 posts Report Reply

  • Arthur on MemeSpree NZ, in reply to Paul Campbell,

    but with an aggressive attempt to get them enrolled - perhaps starting with a card in the mail "So, your vote wasn't counted because ...."

    I agree - but perhaps replacing the word "aggressive" with "enthusiastic," as people tend to respond poorly to aggression - well intentioned or not, as Labour found out with the (characterised by recipients as) "scaremongering" letters re: National's policy on mothers on the DPB.

    It's a brilliant idea. Mind if I pinch it for a submission I'm planning on making to the Electoral Select Committee? Full credit of course. email memespreeNZ {at} gmail {dot} com if'n so please you... :)

    Leitthfield Beach, NZ • Since Nov 2011 • 3 posts Report Reply

  • Arthur on MemeSpree NZ, in reply to DeepRed,

    Mark Bricknell

    Ah, I see. I do recall reading that Red Alert post at the time...

    Maybe it's my happy-go-lucky, Gen X/Y upbringing, but I honestly cannot comprehend a mind that can approach a free and fair contest of ideas in a beautifully democratic country with a proud ideal of egalitarianism, where we can have an honest debate in a spirit of good faith over the best way to run the joint venture known as "Aotearoa/New Zealand" and not have to resort to bullets and batons to be heard - I cannot understand someone who would think it acceptable and desirable to silence a dissenting voice. I literally cannot put myself in a hypothetical bully-boy politico's shoes.

    Which is why, I think, I find Ms. Bennett so distasteful as a politician, whatever her other qualities. That she can feel safe in releasing confidential client files to the media - and be supported in doing so by the PM - speaks to something being rotten in the state of New Zealand.

    To quote a great animated talking horse: No sir. I don't like it.

    Leitthfield Beach, NZ • Since Nov 2011 • 3 posts Report Reply

  • Graeme Edgeler,

    Via Facebook:

    "Briefcase" - Judge Adams's first book of poetry:

    After an argument with his wife, Verity, Jason Button threw a stapler which struck her on the face. Is he guilty of violent assault? Or was it just a matter of bad luck?

    Briefcase, the first book of poetry by Judge and poet John Adams, is a mélange of poems – in traditional and experimental forms – and other texts: affidavits, police reports, a sudoku puzzle, court transcripts, a menu, wills and commentaries.

    A disordered novella in legal documents, brutal and amusing by turns, Briefcase superbly explores the role of language as a vessel for truth and an implement of justice.

    Author

    District Court and Family Court judge at Auckland by day, John Adams also has a Masters in Creative Writing from The University of Auckland and is a poet by night. He is a long-time author of legal texts – such as the Butterworths Family Law series. The first draft of Briefcase was written during his Masters year in 2009.

    Wellington, New Zealand • Since Nov 2006 • 3012 posts Report Reply

  • Phil Lyth, in reply to Arthur on MemeSpree NZ,

    Might pay to check with the Electoral Enrolment Centre, 04 801 0700. I have an idea that the people in this situation (~15,000 - 20,000 each election) get an invitation to enrol. I think it does not say the special vote wasn't counted. But it would pay to check.

    Wellington • Since Apr 2009 • 443 posts Report Reply

  • Felix Marwick, in reply to nzlemming,

    The BIMs will be released in January. Generally there is a 4 – 6 week window for their release. They’re coming out later this time largely because the election was later when compared to 2008.

    As regards the Judge’s written decision on the Waitakere judicial recount, It was the most fun to read legal document I’ve seen in ages.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 198 posts Report Reply

  • nzlemming, in reply to Felix Marwick,

    Yeh, I realise I was being a little optimistic ;-) Thanks

    Waikanae • Since Nov 2006 • 2208 posts Report Reply

  • Matthew Poole,

    Thanks for posting that, Graeme, it was certainly a delight to read. As others have observed, if all judgements were as well-written, the country (and, indeed, the entirety of the planet reliant upon the common law system) would possibly be a better place. Law schools therein would most certainly be somewhat brighter institutions.

    An electoral petition would certainly be interesting in this case, given the potential for a change in the result (it wouldn't take too many reversals of decisions on what sounded like evenly-split ambiguous votes to flip the balance), but the money is huge for such an uncertain outcome.

    As for Peter Kiely, it'd be nice if he'd admit to the Herald that his comment about the 393 votes cast by people not enrolled anywhere was inflammatory. Or, if he was misreported (not likely, given that he's a very influential lawyer), for the Herald to clarify the situation. The implication in his reported comment was that there was massive voter fraud going on in Waitakere, and that Bennett clung on against a determined attack by malignant influences. The reality, as expressed so clearly by Judge Adams, is that the votes weren't even opened, never mind counted.

    Have to say, not in the least bit surprised to find out that the judge has a creative writing degree. They ought to be a mandatory conjoint for law students :P

    The pit from whence crawl… • Since Mar 2007 • 3934 posts Report Reply

  • Phil Lyth,

    So the Electoral Commission has (impressively quickly) put full election statistics online including split vote information. Overall slightly more of us split our votes – 30.7% vs 29.63% in 2008.

    I’m disappointed in the Herald’s angle, ‘the Greens are to blame’ for Waitakere. In fact, Bennett’s votes came from all over.

    She got two ticks from 91% of National voters, compared to only 86% of Labour voters giving two ticks to Sepuloni. Conservative Party voters, perhaps unsurprisingly, gave 220 more votes to Bennett. But she also got 440 votes from NZ First, 85 from United, and 84 from Maori Party. ACT voters preferred Bennett over Sepuloni by 7-1.

    But to my mind the telling blow is that Bennett got 437 votes from people who party voted Labour, yet only 368 voted the reverse, National and Sepuloni.

    Despite any ‘blame the Greens’ meme, the fact is Bennett was adjudged to have got a whisker more votes, from across all parties.

    (Technical note follows)

    Wellington • Since Apr 2009 • 443 posts Report Reply

  • Phil Lyth,

    Technical note, for any would-be anoraks out there wanting to read the split vote information. From the index page you can download an electorate as a web page or csv file. The latter can be manipulated in Excel or other spreadsheet software.

    The splits are given as percentages of the party vote, and read across a row.

    For example in Waitakere, there were 11,579 party votes for Labour. Of these, 85.57% gave the candidate vote to Sepuloni and 3.78% to Bennett. Using Excel or a trusty calculator you can translate these to 9908 and 438 people respectively. (Rounding required because the percentages are only given to 2 decimal places.)

    It is left as an exercise to show the comparable numbers of National voters are 368 and 11,394.

    Those interested can analyse voting data until something better comes along ...

    Wellington • Since Apr 2009 • 443 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha, in reply to Phil Lyth,

    I’m disappointed in the Herald’s angle, ‘the Greens are to blame’ for Waitakere.

    Trevett's claim about what the Greens were telling voters is also fanciful. As is her downplaying the more definite message in Epsom.

    The Green Party candidates made it clear in marginal electorates that they were campaigning only for the party vote - an indication supporters should give Labour their candidate votes. That message was picked up by some.
    ...

    The deal between National and Act to ensure Act's survival meant Epsom was the most controversial electorate battle, including the now infamous cup of tea between John Key and John Banks. That was seen as a nod for National voters to vote for Mr Banks.

    "Seen as"?

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 16996 posts Report Reply

  • Phil Lyth, in reply to Sacha,

    what the Greens were telling voters is also fanciful

    At an Ohariu meet the candidates evening, Gareth Hughes explicitly asked for party votes for the Greens, and didn't mention candidate votes. The Libertarianz man was the only other one to do ask for party votes. Chauvel not surprisingly said it was a two-way race between him and Dunne, with a nice quip that Shanks wanted candidate votes but wasn't allowed to say so. Dunne of course wanted the candidate vote.

    Shanks asked people to vote for John Key, who wasn't on the Ohariu ballot. The other asked us to vote for NZ First and Conservative without being specific.

    Wellington • Since Apr 2009 • 443 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha, in reply to Phil Lyth,

    explicitly asked for party votes for the Greens, and didn't mention candidate votes

    exactly

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 16996 posts Report Reply

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