Hard News by Russell Brown

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Hard News: Bad men

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  • nic.wise,

    RB, on the ads: they are very noticable, but like anyone, you gotta pay the bills :) If I was paying a sub for PA, I'd prefer it without, but hey - I'm getting all this lovely content for FREE, so I'm not going to be complaining..... Just as long as it's not the one that pops up from the side and plays video.... urgh, puts me RIGHT off the advertiser, and the site.

    And, no comments on the police thing, except: I agree - no way I'd want Rickards as chief... There is most likely more to the story than either side is saying, but either way, not something that a top cop shoudl have been doing..... ever.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 83 posts Report Reply

  • Paul Williams,

    I'm pretty sympathetic to the call for changes to the trial process, for rape and for other criminal acts. When I was a young and impressionable law student, criminal law and evidence courses were quite a wake up in terms of the exposure of victims. Of course the rigours of the rules of evidence and procedure are there for good reason, and bad cases make for bad law etc, however cases like this have chilling effect on other victims which is in no one's best interests.

    Russell, I'm sure there'll be no major objection to the changes to PA; you/PA team run a great service, I hope you make a matzah.

    Sydney • Since Nov 2006 • 2233 posts Report Reply

  • simon g,

    One way to improve trials/verdicts is ... to take part.

    How many people do you know who have opted out of jury service? Sometimes for valid reasons, sometimes ... not.

    Wouldn't it be wonderful if the wisdom of Public Address was transferred from computer screen to the jury room?

    Sorry, but this is a BIG gripe of mine. Armchair solutions in theory and active indifference in practice. Grrrrr.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 784 posts Report Reply

  • 3410,

    The NZ Herald for once seemed to rub two brain cells together with this excellent burn:

    “…Mrs Shipton replied: "Absolutely, absolutely. I have stood by my husband every step of the way and that will continue.
    "What I can say is that the verdicts speak for themselves - I told the truth."

    When pushed further and asked, "Do the verdicts from Mt Maunganui speak for themselves?" Mrs Shipton refused to answer and walked off.”

    The sad fact is that 25-year-old rape complaints are almost never going to be resolved satisfactorily. In the court of public opinion these guys are banged to rights. I guess that’s the best we can hope for.

    My thoughts now are with every poor bastard who’s been on the receiving end of a prosecution based on evidence provided by these clearly disreputable men.

    Auckland • Since Jan 2007 • 2618 posts Report Reply

  • Paul Williams,

    simon g said:

    One way to improve trials/verdicts is ... to take part.

    I don't disagree however having more, and possibly more capable, juries won't change the operation of the rules of evidence and criminal proceedure (3410's comment above about the delay in the complaint makes matters even more complex).

    Sydney • Since Nov 2006 • 2233 posts Report Reply

  • Che Tibby,

    3410, i know someone from the mount who was put away for a year in '78 on trumped-up charges.

    i'd very interested to see if these two had any involvement in the "investigation".

    might be writing myself a wee OIA request.

    the back of an envelope • Since Nov 2006 • 2026 posts Report Reply

  • Span .,

    I'm waiting until I am less sad and angry to write a proper post on this, but on the issue of Rickards getting his job back:

    He has been acquitted, twice now. That gives strong impetus to his claim to be reinstated. I agree with Craig R that probably someone will find enough money to make him go away, and from an employment law sense that is probably what it is going to take, because on the facts to date I'm not convinced that the police could get rid of him justifiably.

    I understand that police officers have no code of conduct or code of ethics. If they do now they probably didn't back then, when these rapes were committed. What has Rickards breached? Or, more importantly, what has he breached that would have been the standard in the 1980s? Because having rapists for friends is not going to be enough to fire him justifiably.

    Auckland, NZ • Since Nov 2006 • 112 posts Report Reply

  • Lucy Stewart,

    Too right. If we think there is a miscarriage of justice here, if there is a systemic failure, that system is police management, and the failures go back to the 80s. If these cases had been tried 10 years ago or earlier we might have seen different verdicts.

    As I understand it, Louise Nicholas first complained about her alleged rape by those policemen (along with anothe, unconnected incident) in 1993, fourteen years ago. While I believe there was a trial related to the unconnected incident at that time, I'd love to know why, exactly, it took fourteen years to get from complaint to trial. I've no idea why that is, but maybe if prompter action had been taken back then, we might have seen a different verdict.

    Amherst, MA • Since Nov 2006 • 2093 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown,

    Just as long as it's not the one that pops up from the side and plays video.... urgh, puts me RIGHT off the advertiser, and the site.

    Won't happen here while I draw breath.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 18991 posts Report Reply

  • Idiot Savant,

    Robyn: if you find the ads obnoxious, just get adblock. Enf of problem. I don't even know they're there.

    Palmerston North • Since Nov 2006 • 1661 posts Report Reply

  • tony ricketts,

    I find it hard to be sympathetic to police of the 80s, as we'd recently witnessed the awful things they'd been required to do re: the Springbok Tour, and the evident glee with which many of them did those things. Decent, honourable cops would have found it hard to stay on the force, I'd have thought, and the others would have benefitted in their careers.

    There's a new TV cop show, set in 1973-Britain, and commentators all pick up on the attitudes to women and to violence which were commonplace back then, a lot closer to the mid-80s than we are.

    katikati • Since Nov 2006 • 3 posts Report Reply

  • 3410,

    I understand that police officers have no code of conduct or code of ethics.

    From my experience of police officers, I'd tend to agree, but I guess that's not what you meant.

    I believe it is the case that NZ Police officers have an obligation not to "bring the NZ Police into disrepute". Some of Rickards' comments yesterday, and perhaps during the trials, might be construed as contravening this obligation.

    Auckland • Since Jan 2007 • 2618 posts Report Reply

  • simon g,

    I think the men were found not guilty because the jurors had been stuck with this awful, unwanted burden for a very long time, and just wanted to be rid of it. Really.

    It's about human nature, and group dynamics. Not the law.

    Ever been a kid at school, stuck in detention? "Just do what teacher says, and then you can go home." That's the jury system. How long would you hold out? Escape is just a word away. Just ... agree. With no personal consequences. Nobody will ever know who you are. That makes it a unique life experience - nothing else compares.

    Of course, academics, lawyers, journalists, police, politicians etc will have their own "informed" views on the whole process, and they will all have one thing in common - they've never done what they're talking about.

    I think we should stick all the "experts" in the one room, tell them they can never leave until they ALL agree, and make it into a Reality TV show. Rated R18. That will tell us all we need to know how verdicts happen. It's not pretty.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 784 posts Report Reply

  • Stephen Judd,

    That's a terrible slur on juries, Simon.

    I've never been on a jury, but my partner recently was - a serious trial for kidnapping, robbery and assault. The jurors took it very seriously. (Interestingly, after they convicted, they were told that the defendant had previous convictions for similar offences).

    In any case, if juries were crap enough to reach a verdict just so they can get away, they might just as well settle on guilty as innocent.

    Academics and jounalists at least can sit on juries. And you can have valid opinions on things you've never personally experienced. In fact sometimes personal involvement in one episode skews your judgement of things in general badly.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 2968 posts Report Reply

  • samuel walker,

    As for the dirty coppers, their failure to be convicted doesn't mean they're off scott free. Reputationally, they are ruined. Which doesn't bother me at all.

    ben, i would hate to see anyones career ruined,or worse just because of a couple of vindictive false claims. i don't believe that is what has happened here, but its a can of worms i wouldn't like to see opened.just ask anyone who has had such a claim against them, its a terrifying experience.

    i would not be comfortable having rikards keep the top job, but he would need to be suitably compensated for loss of career. It is possible that all the incidents he was involved in were standard fare group sex scenarios (they are not actually that rare) and that some people along the way didn't get what they wanted out of it, or expected more and held grudges, whilst other people involved went on to more extreme sexual practices.......


    just maybe

    Since Nov 2006 • 203 posts Report Reply

  • simon g,

    OK, Stephen, your last sentence is fair comment - guilty as charged! I should dismount from my hobby-horse.

    But I do wish the process was discussed more in the media. For better or worse, it's how verdicts are reached, and it is a key part of the system.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 784 posts Report Reply

  • Beatrix,

    Okay, so maybe I've only witnessed rape trials in television land, but courtroom drama teaches me that addressing the complainant's sexual history is fair game. I don't know if that is the case in New Zealand or here, but (and going out on a limb) it does seem a little bizarre if the jury can know about this, and not previous convictions.

    London • Since Nov 2006 • 15 posts Report Reply

  • Span .,

    As for the comments Rickards has made since the verdict bringing the police into disrepute, that's a possible grounds for disciplinary action I guess, but I suspect he has a pretty good defence there on the grounds of the extremely emotional situation, strain of the trial, etc. I'm thinking about the arguments I'd make if I was representing Rickards, as disgusting a thought as that is.

    And still I feel that those comments would not be enough for dismissal.

    Although, having hoped so hard for the verdict in this case to be other than it was, I may now be over compensating with regard to this.

    Auckland, NZ • Since Nov 2006 • 112 posts Report Reply

  • Heather Gaye,

    That's a terrible slur on juries, Simon.

    I did a week on a district court jury, we all took it very seriously, but it was still a really disconcerting, confusing experience. I know that the point is that we're not supposed to be swayed by any outside influences, but during the breaks and for deliberation we were just shuttled into a little room and left to our own devices. Basically the two loudest people steered the deliberation, by default. We were all very confused about what "deliberating" really called for and sometimes the discussion got a bit farfetched.

    One thing I noticed was that many jurors' judgements were coloured - quite heavily in a couple of cases - by expectations based on media sensations and american legal dramas. One woman spent a lot of time carping on about why didn't the police do this, or that, or why don't we have x evidence, rather than focussing on the (really really stupidly obvious) evidence that was supplied. I have no idea what it's like at high court level, but I think probably juries would benefit from a bit of extra guidance, rather than just what room they're supposed to walk into next. Nothing to do with the specifics of the trial - just someone to answer questions about legal protocol, or give them an indication that their debate is straying outside the scope of what's expected from them.

    AND after arguing for five hours about a stupid sports club break-in, the aforementioned woman eventually just threw up her hands and said "fine, he's probably guilty", so there's definitely an element of pack rule, particularly when fatigue sets in.

    Under the western motorwa… • Since Nov 2006 • 523 posts Report Reply

  • max w,

    I'm getting a little frustrated with others (earlier on) pushing the "this is how the system works" line. It does not have to. Things can change for the better. That's what progressiveness in a society is about.

    I'm not a lawyer, but I do not see why, at least in rape cases, there cannot be legislative change. It seems simple and fair to me that if a rape-victim must have her entire history trawled through by wealthy, morally-redundant QC's, the same should apply for the defendant. I'm not saying that previous convictions should be part of most trials; I see good reason why they should not.

    But with rape cases relying often purely on "He said, she said", and add to that an incredibly sexist and patriarchal legal system, I see no good reason why a person facing rape charges, currently in jail for rape (of a very similar nature), should have that (rather crucial fact) suppressed.

    There is no need to throw the baby out with the bath-water here, but serious reform to our legal system is plainly necessary. Comments such as "the legal system is like this, has always been like this, and should always be like this" is hardly a rational (let alone a moral) argument.
    max

    Since Mar 2007 • 2 posts Report Reply

  • andrew llewellyn,

    One woman spent a lot of time carping on about why didn't the police do this, or that, or why don't we have x evidence, rather than focussing on the (really really stupidly obvious) evidence that was supplied.

    Ditto - one woman on the same jury as me - an assault case & the guy was clearly innocent (a taxi driver accused by a woman trying to get out of paying her fare), kept harping "What if... what if..."

    Completely oblivious to the evidence in front of us (which clearly indicated the woman was lying). We eneded up deliberating overnight when we should have reached the correct verdict within 30 minutes.

    BTW - we also had an ex prison officer on the jury who openly admitted that he believed all defendants to be guilty.

    Since Nov 2006 • 2074 posts Report Reply

  • Stephen Judd,

    The argument I was putting was not that it the status quo is best because it is traditional, but that it is traditional because it is best (or least bad, anyway).

    I would prefer any evening-up to be protecting the complainant, not stripping more from the defendant.

    I read today in the Herald that there are apparently special circumstances in which previous convictions can be admitted in evidence. I would love to know what those circumstances are - that would give us all more facts to think about.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 2968 posts Report Reply

  • Craig Ranapia,

    I'm thinking about the arguments I'd make if I was representing Rickards, as disgusting a thought as that is.

    Eww... but seriously, Span:

    Maybe, maybe not - but I truly hope the Police make sure he's gone one way or the other. I'm no employment lawyer, or a mind reader, but what Rickards said didn't look like an emotional outburst from a distraught man to me. And he's not the only employee to think about here: I know one officer (female) who told me a couple of months back that she wasn't exactly overjoyed when he became Auckland District Commander and Assistant Commissioner in the first place - and if he's reinstated, she will either transfer out of Auckland or quit. And this isn't some hyper-sensitive petal who is prone to hysterics or making idle threats.

    If there's enough officers like her out there, it might well be more of a liability to keep him around. It might also be more trouble than it's work to keep him at arm's length, so to speak, from the managers, fellow officers and jurists he so vocally expressed his contempt for yesterday.

    North Shore, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 12040 posts Report Reply

  • dad4justice,

    Rickards, Schollum and Shipton have done enormous damage to their integrity as viewed by the majority of the New Zealand public.
    My experience of current cops would qualify me to say, that they are rotten from top to bottom, and have been for quite some time.

    Anyone that does not believe me should read the book written by the former kiwi detective - Tom Lewis “ Cover Up & Cop Outs”, as it is a real eye opener. This culture of police is disturbing. I do feel it’s time, long overdue for a big clean up, surely after this debacle?

    What did Justice Young say in 2005 about the two SS rape ratbags ,oh thats right , "You were confident you could committ a serious crime and get away with because you were policemen -and you almost did ."

    Anyway that my 10 cents worth on yet another sad and expensive saga for society.

    Since Jan 2007 • 50 posts Report Reply

  • Phil Mackie,

    3410 noted...

    My thoughts now are with every poor bastard who’s been on the receiving end of a prosecution based on evidence provided by these clearly disreputable men.

    Mr Rickards as I understand it was an undercover drug squad officer?? In that case there could be many of these 'poor bastards'. Consider the following hypothetical exchange:

    Defence Lawyer. Constable Rickards, can you tell the jury whether you were under the influence of Marijuana/Cocaine/Insert drug of choice at the time?

    Constable Rickards. No sir, I simulated using Marijuana/Cocaine/Insert drug of choice.

    There you have it - the big lie, under oath, in front of a Judge and jury. Use 'Simulate' in a conversation with any former undercover drug agent, and watch the reaction - it is a joke statement.

    Lyall Bay • Since Nov 2006 • 4 posts Report Reply

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