Hard News by Russell Brown

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Hard News: So-called celebrity justice

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  • Jackie Clark,

    I'm in two minds about all this. Make that three. Part of me is disturbed that so many have jumped to the defence of someone, who, without to put too fine a point on it, appears to have shoved a girl's face in his crotch rather forcibly. And another part of me agrees with those who say that this is a storm in a teacup, and that if the chap involved wasn't a "celebrity" the papers wouldn't have bothered reporting this. There's also a part of me that doubts there is anyone famous enough in NZ for this to affect the international reputation of.

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

  • Graeme Edgeler,

    let's bring back duelling!

    Steven Price had an interesting piece on that...

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

  • ScottY,

    The major issue with the current law is the lack of clear guidelines available to judges. The principles outlined in ss139-141 of the Criiminal Justice Act 1985 are far too broad and don't give much guidance to judges. That was highlighted by the recent Law Commisson report.

    As for celebrities, there's certainly a public perception they get a better deal. And perhaps they do - if only because they can usually afford decent legal representation.

    Being named and shamed can be every bit as devastating for a non-celebrity. The naming of a person convicted or accused of an offence has the potential to destroy that person's career and personal relationships. A celebrity caught out can at least sell his/her story to the media, and shed some tears for the camera. Infamy sells.

    The law ought to be clearer. Name supression should only be given in truly exceptional cases (e.g. to protect victims of crime). The Law Commission is of the view that the lower courts are inconsistent as to when they grant suppression orders, and I find it hard to argue with that finding.

    Yorke of The Atatu • Since Feb 2009 • 791 posts Report Reply

  • steven crawford,

    How about the infamous knicker sniffer tradesman from the first Target series on TV. That guy wasn't a celebrity until he was secretly filmed doing unusual things.The women I work for, said she's met him, and found it difficult to take him seriously, after that celebrity debut.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 2805 posts Report Reply

  • Sofie Bribiesca,

    The Law Commission is of the view that the lower courts are inconsistent as to when they grant suppression orders, and I find it hard to argue with that finding.

    So until that changes, we should respect the Judges finding. This public opinion court of 'news to report however we want to' is dragging the entire country into disrepute. We have many examples around the world of how to sell trashy newspapers, and for the shortage we have of them in NZ, surely we could expect them to lift their game. If we want to get street opinion on a ruling of a Judge, whats the point of court at all. Just hang them high. The court deserves some respect. Just getting people into it is a bloody good start to justice and the person put in charge of that needs to be listened to.Listen to the judge ,do as he says, that's a start to stopping the behaviour. He was wrong, half the country knows who he is. It doesn't need to be gossip.
    So J Key, being PM should at least act like one and respect the courts instead of this shitstirring. rrrrant over.

    here and there. • Since Nov 2007 • 6357 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown,

    As for celebrities, there's certainly a public perception they get a better deal. And perhaps they do - if only because they can usually afford decent legal representation.

    It's funny; that was the default assumption about Mikey Havoc and parking tickets recently, but he appears to have negotiated with the judge himself.

    "Celebrity" isn't such a useful term for evaluating wealth in New Zealand -- some of the people in the Sunday gossip pages are Remuera old money, and some go to product launches for the free piss. But I'm not sure the defendant is part of that world.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 19116 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown,

    I'm in two minds about all this. Make that three.

    I think all three of your minds are perfectly rational. It's not a simple matter.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 19116 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown,

    Perhaps that's not so easy to do if you're a 16 year old girl who has realised that she's in way over her head with someone she's a bit in awe of and twenty years older?

    I've been tremendously disappointed to hear whispers of the old victim blaming in this case as well - people saying "but oh, she led him on". I'm all for context, but gosh, there's context and there's taking responsibility for your own actions. Lord knows I've been drunk and flirtatious a thousand times but never felt like the next step was pushing someone's face into my naked crotch.

    It's not at all correct to think the victim led anyone on -- she said she just went into the alley to find her two older friends, who'd originally approached the guy asking for a kiss and then accompanied him down the alley for whatever else.

    No blame can be attached to her at all. There was no flirting on her part, nothing. She simply arrived as the drunk entertainer was with her friends, with his fly open. Proximity between the entertainer and the victim seems to have been a matter of a few seconds, before she left again, obviously very upset.

    I was pretty appalled when the Star Times wheeled out Louise Nicholas to comment on the basis of her experience of name suppression. She and others were abused and controlled for years by powerful men (whose names were suppressed only to avoid prejudicing trials). It seemed an odd parallel to draw with this tawdry incident.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 19116 posts Report Reply

  • Peter Ashby,

    @Russell Clarke

    Aren't they also meant to be positive role models, or somesuch?

    Says who? maybe, just maybe if they are children's entertainers but for general/adult people not so much. I say that is something many people in the public eye would dispute. Now those we elect are in a different category and I would say yes, but only wrt their public behaviour unless they are indulging in major hypocrisy.

    Dundee, Scotland • Since May 2007 • 425 posts Report Reply

  • Craig Ranapia,

    I was pretty appalled when the Star Times wheeled out Louise Nicholas to comment on the basis of her experience of name suppression. She and others were abused and controlled for years by powerful men (whose names were suppressed only to avoid prejudicing trials)

    I'm still trying to wrap my head around why Nicholas would answer the phone to the same media outlets that were quite happy to give Clint Rickard a clear field to trash her as a vindictive, mentally unstable slut who repeatedly committed perjury.

    North Shore, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 12073 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Clarke,

    Says who? maybe, just maybe if they are children's entertainers but for general/adult people not so much. I say that is something many people in the public eye would dispute.

    Yeah, fair call. Considering the audience to which our entertainer would be mainly exposed*, and his reported connections with charities, which can be damaged by his actions, I believe there's at least an obligation for him to not act like a dick*.

    *Pun intended.

    -36.76, 174.61 or thereab… • Since Nov 2006 • 164 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown,

    I'm very wary of declaring people "role models" simply because they have a visible occupation.

    I remember, after equestrian hero Mark Todd was set up and snapped with a rent boy and some charlie by the Daily Mirror in 2000, the NZ Herald went ballistic in an editorial preposterously headlined 'Mark Todd owes us all an explanation'.

    The editorial declared that Todd could not be allowed anywhere near that year's Sydney Olympics, or shame would surely fall on us all: he should "retire immediately with as much grace as he can muster"

    After this fit of windbaggery was ignored, and Todd went on to win NZ's first medal at the Sydney games, the Herald then ran a front-page story headed:

    'Kiwi spirits soar with Todd bronze'

    Newspapers really can be wankers sometimes.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 19116 posts Report Reply

  • Craig Ranapia,

    Now those we elect are in a different category and I would say yes, but only wrt their public behaviour unless they are indulging in major hypocrisy.

    So, we have a double standard for entertainers and politicians? If you're going to run that rationale for panty-sniffing -- and many will -- it seems gargantuan hypocrisy not to apply it with absolute consistency. Then again, a lot of media folks seems to have an expectation of privacy they're not willing to extend to anyone else.

    North Shore, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 12073 posts Report Reply

  • Brickley Paiste,

    There are some awesome offences still on the books

    The offence of bestiality is complete upon penetration. The Crown always forgets that.

    ramped up name suppression as an issue

    You know who always gets name suppression no matter what every single time? Doctors. The first time I had to write a name suppression application I got the template from a medico-legal lawyer. They had stacks of information on the shit. Look up the Disciplinary Tribunal rulings. Every doctor in this country is named W or L or M.

    I'm much more convinced of the Canadian approach in a decision called Dagenais. In Canada, it is recognised that there is no hierarchy of human rights -- therefore, the right to a fair trial is no more or less important than freedom of speech. So there has to be a real and substantial risk of fair trial rights as opposed to a real (read: any) risk in NZ.

    I reckon in this case suppression is bad. Sex crimes are under reported and under prosecuted. I think sex offences, unless they are against children or something, should never have name suppression.

    His early plea, etc, as you said, would have pleased the judge though.

    Since Mar 2009 • 163 posts Report Reply

  • dubmugga,

    you're a crack up alright russell. couple days ago you didnt want to talk about it but now its been beat up with the PM weighing in you decide its newsworthy again and diss the papers for, if not following suit then at least playing the same game you are...

    ...shoulda grown a pair last week and trotted out your well formed opinion then

    but anyway, its the fact that the entertainer pimps his music to exactly the demographic whose poor decision making he preyed on that warranted no name supression in the first place.

    i mean wheres the proof that him being outed would affect his international marketability? didnt do akon any harm dry humping a 15yr old on stage.

    the backlash for not owning up will and has hurt him more especially among the heads. i remember ages ago at a hiphop summit DLT saying the industry was run by paedos...guess he was right cos what sort of message does it give from on high in the music industry that they will support an artist as long as he makes money for them?... Line em up, take a ticket and stand in line.

    on a side note i reckon the victims shoulda taken some cell phone pics as insurance:)

    the back of your mind • Since Nov 2006 • 257 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown,

    His early plea, etc, as you said, would have pleased the judge though

    I talked about the case to Wammo this morning and the victim's father called him afterwards with additional info about the plea that I was aware of and would like to see aired, but don't feel able to do so myself.

    Interestingly, though, different judges granted the interim and permanent suppression orders -- David Harvey and Eddie Paul respectively -- on the basis of the same arguments. I wonder if the police's "neutral" stance was pivotal here.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 19116 posts Report Reply

  • Brickley Paiste,

    with additional info about the plea that I was aware of and would like to see aired, but don't feel able to do so myself.

    Is it public? Just air it. What's the big deal?

    Interestingly, though, different judges granted the interim and permanent suppression orders -- David Harvey and Eddie Paul respectively -- on the basis of the same arguments. I wonder if the police's "neutral" stance was pivotal here.

    Too bad they had never heard of Barbara Streisand.

    I had never heard of the person in question when someone told me who it was yesterday. So now I get to learn about NZ music and NZ law at the same time.

    Since Mar 2009 • 163 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown,

    ...shoulda grown a pair last week and trotted out your well formed opinion then

    Thanks for your opinion.

    i mean wheres the proof that him being outed would affect his international marketability?

    That would have been in the evidence presented to the judges who subsequently granted the orders.

    didnt do akon any harm dry humping a 15yr old on stage.

    I do wish people would stop implying it's a good career move.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 19116 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown,

    Is it public? Just air it. What's the big deal?

    I'm not sure it is public, and I was told privately. I'd rather the father broached it.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 19116 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson,

    I do wish people would stop implying it's a good career move.

    Doesn't seem like it's necessarily a bad one either, though. If that's the demographic buying the music, then they might love it.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 8737 posts Report Reply

  • Craig Ranapia,

    But to play devil's advocate for a moment, am I wrong in feeling highly ambiguous about "judicial discretion," because it sure seems to benefit people who look a lot like the people exercising it? I know it's not a precise analogy, but could it be not entirely coincidental that if you commit a capital crime in the US your odds of not ending up on death row increase exponentially if you're a white, middle-class Christian woman with children? You know, the kind of people white middle-class Christian judges go home to at the end of the day.

    North Shore, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 12073 posts Report Reply

  • Gareth Ward,

    Wow, a couple of comments here are really running close to the "clever game to identify him" aren't they?

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

  • philipmatthews,

    Wow, a couple of comments here are really running close to the "clever game to identify him" aren't they?

    That's what I thought. We can now officially rule out John Rowles and Hayley Westenra.

    Christchurch • Since Nov 2007 • 646 posts Report Reply

  • Craig Ranapia,

    That's what I thought. We can now officially rule out John Rowles and Hayley Westenra.

    I don't know... that Westenra always looked to me like the kind of boozy tart who'd end up getting her cock sucked in an alley somewhere...

    North Shore, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 12073 posts Report Reply

  • Kyle Matthews,

    By comparison, the Dr who admitted mutual fondling of genitals with a 16yr old babysitter & then continued an e-affair 15yrs later. Subsequently agreed to pay $50K in compensation, but didn't cause she went to the media.
    Has name suppession currently and still maintains he "did not have sexual relations with that girl" after the above admission- from RNZ.

    I don't know the details of that case, but in cases involving sexual offences against a minor normally both names are suppressed, and they are suppressed to protect the minor, not the offender.

    But to play devil's advocate for a moment, am I wrong in feeling highly ambiguous about "judicial discretion," because it sure seems to benefit people who look a lot like the people exercising it?

    I think that's true Craig, but it's worse if you go to other alternatives - juries, media etc. Jury stacking in the states defies the term 'peers' in many instances.

    Since Nov 2006 • 6227 posts Report Reply

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