Hard News by Russell Brown

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Hard News: Bad men

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  • barnaclebarnes,

    Good luck on the advertising Russell. I have been an avid reader of PA for a long time and know you and the team put a lot of work into it and deserve to make some decent money off of it.

    Glen

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 90 posts Report Reply

  • Paul Brislen,

    I'm interested in what we think about the whole idea of keeping prior convictions away from juries.

    In most cases I can see that it's a good idea (just because he's robbed before doesn't mean he did it this time) but when it comes down to rape accusations so many of these cases rest on who the jury believe: the complainant or the defendant.

    In those cases, surely a jury must hear about prior convictions? Doesn't it address the most important aspect of such a complaint - the character of those involved?

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 198 posts Report Reply

  • James Graham,

    You should place the top leader board ad below your site header as it looks kinda weird being the first thing you see. To me it needs framing in your site not drifting above it like a geocities ad or something

    Good luck on the ads, there's good money to be made in advertising backed web sites these days.

    Tauranga • Since Nov 2006 • 12 posts Report Reply

  • Robert D'Lures,

    I think they should especially if they show a consistent MO like in this case.

    Since Feb 2007 • 4 posts Report Reply

  • Danyl Mclauchlan,

    The rumor I've heard is that there are additional potential prosecutions but that the tactic is to wait until Rickards no longer enjoys the benefits of being on paid leave from his six figure salary job, and is therefore less able to fund such a strong defense.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 927 posts Report Reply

  • Robert D'Lures,

    be able to put previous convictions in front of the jury that is...

    Since Feb 2007 • 4 posts Report Reply

  • rodgerd,

    In those cases, surely a jury must hear about prior convictions? Doesn't it address the most important aspect of such a complaint - the character of those involved?

    At which point the defence is going to argue, not unreasonably, that a proper defence will require the ability to scrutinise the character of the complainant. Which gets us into the less-than-pleasant situation of would-be rape complainants knowing that anyone with a competant defence lawyer will spend the trial digging up as much mud as possible and see what sticks.

    To be honest I was stunned that the complainant was stupid enough to announce that she was determined to get Rickards and co for "poor Louise." I'm sorry, but I'd have a very hard time as a jurist convicting based on the testimony of someone who made such a statement.

    The rumor I've heard is that there are additional potential prosecutions but that the tactic is to wait until Rickards no longer enjoys the benefits of being on paid leave from his six figure salary job, and is therefore less able to fund such a strong defense.

    That may not be as repulsive as using your police job to find vulnerable teenagers to fuck, but if true, it's a blight on how we deal justice, frankly.

    I hope, though, that Rickard's obnoxious outburst against his fellow police for having the temerity to act with some integrity and investigate the complaints against him will be adequate justification to keep him away from anything important in the poilice force ever again, convictions or no.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 512 posts Report Reply

  • Paul Litterick,

    The prior convictions were not relevant to the case which the jury heard. A jury should decide on the facts of the case, not the character of the defendent or his history. In this case, the jury heard all the evidence, deliberated for some time and returned a verdict. That is how our trial system works.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 1000 posts Report Reply

  • Paul Brislen,

    Rickards' position is a tricky one.

    Either he knew what was going on and was involved (very bad) or he knew but wasn't involved but didn't say anything (also bad). Or he didn't know (and yet was 'close friends' with these guys) which makes him a lousy copper, or he knew but didn't feel he could do anything about it/was too junior/easily intimidated.

    Having seen him talk to the media after the case I doubt it's the latter case, but that's about the only one that could conceivably make me give him the benefit of the doubt. I don't know what rank he was (or the others for that matter) back in the 80s - anyone know? Was he senior or junior to the other two?

    It's very difficult as a junior member of staff to dob in senior members - but hey, he's a police officer and yes I would expect them to go the extra mile with such things.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 198 posts Report Reply

  • Ian Hickling,

    seeing the pictures this morning on the Herald site, reminded me of the MJ & OJ court cases in the US, with the obligatory news conference outside the courthouse. It cheapens NZ justice. Surely the kind of outburst by Rickards should be construed as contempt?

    Barbados • Since Nov 2006 • 25 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown,

    You should place the top leader board ad below your site header as it looks kinda weird being the first thing you see. To me it needs framing in your site not drifting above it like a geocities ad or something.

    That's one of those calls you make. It was influenced by the fact that the PA System banners already run above the mastehead.

    Good luck on the ads, there's good money to be made in advertising backed web sites these days.

    Yes. And I'm very happy to be partnering with Scoop. Al's my homeboy from way back, and I think Scoop has shpwn the eay for independent sites.

    Agency creative is still an issue for me, but perhaps we can be a positive influence there.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22749 posts Report Reply

  • Craig Young,

    Wishart's sailing close to his own flatulence on this one. Schollum and Shipton are pond scum rapists, but Rickards might have grounds for defamation if his lawyer catches sight of his latest ramblings on The Barking Mad Room blog...

    Craig Y

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 566 posts Report Reply

  • Stephen Judd,

    "Doesn't it address the most important aspect of such a complaint - the character of those involved?"

    What that really amounts to is saying that bad character is valid evidence of guilt.

    (What about someone who produces evidence of great character? They'd say "I'm innocent - 'cos I'm a great guy!" Which is how charismatic authority figures try to avoid being caught... arguably the real reason for the ex-All Black testimonty was to try and sneak some positive evidence of Rickards' character in.)

    The rule is designed to stop dogs who are given a bad name suffering for it in perpetuity. That's because in our system of law it's the principle that it is better to let the guilty go free than convict the innocent.

    This case is a fine example of the unpleasant consequences of sticking to those principles, but it's important to keep the other side in view.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 3122 posts Report Reply

  • Craig Ranapia,

    Daryl:

    Shit, that's cynical. Then again, I'm not one to talk because after his extraordinary post-verdict outburst, I'm not entirely convinced he really wants his job back as opposed to laying the ground for a generous 'fuck off' package. (Because that's never happened in the history of industrial relations, has it?) Then again, it's not entirely implausible that he's thick as a brick and twice as dangerous, with a vindictive steak and an engorged sense of entitlement.

    In the end, I just want to see this... person gone. Rickards was acquitted on charges of indecent assault and kidnapping yesterday. Being a sleazy prick isn't necessarily a crime - let alone an employment matter. But does anyone want to read the transcript of the trial - including Rickards' own testimony - and his post-verdict comments, and seriously argue he has the character and good judgement to be (quite literally) one promotion away from the top of the Police force in 21st century New Zealand?

    If a solid gold (en handshake is the price of taking out the trash, so be it. Doesn't mean I have to like it...

    North Shore, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 12370 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown,

    Wishart's sailing close to his own flatulence on this one. Schollum and Shipton are pond scum rapists, but Rickards might have grounds for defamation if his lawyer catches sight of his latest ramblings on The Barking Mad Room blog...

    I'd be surprised. There are obvious risks for Rickards in going to a civil court, and Wishart would presumably be able to call his police sources as witnesses. I think a defamation action would probably be a disaster for Rickards.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22749 posts Report Reply

  • James Griffin,

    So is the next story-in-waiting how much Rickards will get when he PERFs?

    You'd have to think that being a long-serving senior officer...plus (as I understand it) the Government's 2-for-1 top-up of the Police Employment Rehabilitation Fund...

    We're probably talking a fair whack of dosh here. Aren't we?

    Since Nov 2006 • 28 posts Report Reply

  • simon g,

    At least some of the jury members will probably have known, or at least vaguely heard, about previous trials. And when you are stuck together for days - even overnight, as this jury was - with nothing in common except the trial, then these extraneous things are mentioned. Maybe not as part of the official deliberations, but in chats, over a coffee, during those regular dull periods (there are many). Just like office gossip. The jury is not 12 people in a board meeting with an agenda and a brisk, no-nonsense chair.

    The information should be suppressed. That doesn't mean jurors won't talk abouut it.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 1321 posts Report Reply

  • Peter Darlington,

    And isn't it a depressing and vaguely ironic send-off to a week that started off talking about porn and raunch culture?

    Nelson • Since Nov 2006 • 948 posts Report Reply

  • Heather Gaye,

    At which point the defence is going to argue, not unreasonably, that a proper defence will require the ability to scrutinise the character of the complainant. Which gets us into the less-than-pleasant situation of would-be rape complainants knowing that anyone with a competant defence lawyer will spend the trial digging up as much mud as possible and see what sticks.

    The defence already can, and does. The Nicholas case is a perfect example - the defence launched a hefty character assassination on Louise Nicholas, but the prosecution couldn't respond.

    That's a big problem with rape cases - and I remember this being addressed years ago - the prosecution is not allowed to provide character evidence to support the complainant. This makes sense for most trials; for example, the victim of a murder or a burglary doesn't generally have to prove that they were murdered, or burgled. But rape cases are different, most of them are *entirely* about character - the onus is regularly on the prosecution to prove that any crime was committed at all.

    I remember reading a long time ago an example - where the defence is insisting that the sex was consensual, the prosecution isn't allowed to call workmates, family members or even a psychologist to testify that after a particular time the complainant started behaving differently, displaying symptoms that they'd been through a traumatic encounter.

    Morningside • Since Nov 2006 • 532 posts Report Reply

  • wayoutwest,

    Yes it would indeed be disturbing to see Rickards back working on the Police force , I suspect fortunately this is not going to happen . The thing about Criminal Jury Trials is - Proof Beyond Reasonable Doubt- which is a sound cautious principle . Practising as a defence lawyer in Criminal Trials, often that principle is hammered by myself and my colleagues with successs , as it should be . If you don't 'know' don't guess . The truth- maybe sadly- is left often to those immediatly involved, and because of lack of evidence never resolved in the public forum that is the Criminal Court. In the interests of fair Trial previous convictions should never be lead by Prosecution, also a very sound principle to prevent the obvious prejudice infecting a 'fair' decision on the current matter at hand . The prosecution can lead 'similar fact evidence' where there is a very similar modis operendi to some recent event by the accused which led a to Criminal Conviction, and its possible there were unsuccessful pretrial applications by the Crown of that kind with respect to the recent Rickards etc Trial .
    And ofcourse the Police should have vigourously investigateed these allegations . Particularly since some of their own were involved . This to me is such a no brainer .

    muriwai • Since Feb 2007 • 2 posts Report Reply

  • Craig Ranapia,

    Mr. Darlington:

    Masterpiece of understatement...

    James Griffin:
    I'm not sure whether he'd qualify to be paid out under the Police Employment Rehabilitation Fund - I think you only get the top up if you were employed before 1992 (when the PERF was closed off) and can prove you're leaving for "medical or psychological reasons." Officers recruited since then are part of the government superannuation scheme which is paid out in full whether an officer is sacked, or resigns.

    Doesn't mean the Police, like the rest of the public service, won't cut a large cheque - with a binding non-disclosure agreement binding both parties, of course - to make a problem go away. A friend who used to work for the State Services Commission calls it The Godfather Option - make 'em an offer they can't refuse. :)

    North Shore, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 12370 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson,

    Good luck with moving PA in a commercial direction. I think it's a brave move, but fortune favours that..

    As for the dirty coppers, their failure to be convicted doesn't mean they're off scot free. Reputationally, they are ruined. Which doesn't bother me at all. There should be consequences for actions that are immoral but not found illegal - total social disapproval is a surprisingly powerful force.

    And if there is a hard core of people who still like these guys, whose trust and faith hasn't been rocked by some of the facts that have emerged, then there is probably a reason for that too - maybe they have lived better lives since those days. But surely most people who don't know them will be judging them very harshly, whatever the jury found.

    Certainly what they did and got away with has brought the Force into disrepute. I would not like to think that such characters are common in the NZ Police Force. Sadly, the few coppers that I know personally give me the impression that they're a lot more common than I had previously thought.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 10633 posts Report Reply

  • Stephen Judd,

    And ofcourse the Police should have vigourously investigateed these allegations . Particularly since some of their own were involved . This to me is such a no brainer.

    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.

    There is a crying need to shine an intense light in some dark places in the NZ police. I worry that there is the worst sort of old boys' network, a force within the force, and if so it needs to be ripped out root and branch.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 3122 posts Report Reply

  • Paul Brislen,

    Stephen - you're not wrong... but really when we're talking about historic rape cases like this there is no other evidence than the person's character... I think historic rape cases are probably unique in this regard - you wouldn't bring a historic case involving theft or even murder unless there was some kind of evidence, circumstantial or otherwise (an no, IANAL).

    I'm quite uncomfortable with the idea that prior convictions should be introduced at all, but I think it's worth looking beyond a blanket "never" approach particularly in cases where there is similiarity between crimes or where the main defence/prosecution consists of a person's character.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 198 posts Report Reply

  • Robyn Gallagher,

    Agency creative is still an issue for me, but perhaps we can be a positive influence there.

    I don't like the AA skyscraper ad with the yellow carr whooshing across from side to side. It's distracting when I'm trying to read the main blog post, which is the #1 reason why I'm looking at that webpage.

    But the car can be disappeared by making the browse window smaller or dragging the window so the ad is off screen. But I bet the AA wouldn't be happy with either of these solutions.

    So, yes, let's get ads working with the vibe of Public Address (much like bFM's legendary ad style).

    Raglan • Since Nov 2006 • 1946 posts Report Reply

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