Hard News by Russell Brown

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Hard News: New Lounge Toy Update

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  • Kumara Republic,

    Remember that what was nominally anti-terorism legislation in the UK was used to pursue Icelandic banks.

    It's a legal truism that extreme cases make bad law and anything that comes in under the guise of "fighting terrorism" and "getting tough on crime" will be used and abused outside its supposed intent. It will be abused by the police who know that even applied incompletely, such legislation is still very useful for harassment, intimidation and suppression of people they don't like.

    And how far off would it be from declaring a "permanent state of emergency"?

    I am reminded of Richard Prebble's remark after 9/11 where he compared the flour-bombing of Eden Park in 1981 to crashing jetliners into skyscrapers.

    The southernmost capital … • Since Nov 2006 • 5441 posts Report Reply

  • Paul Campbell,

    Now, IIRC, they can take DNA samples from people they "intend" to charge.

    Doesn't that put the cops in a bind - once they've taken a DNA sample from you they can't untake it - so they have to charge you or run the risk that you will go after them for not really intending to charge you and taking the sample under false pretenses - that means they have to find something, anything, to charge you with to keep them out of trouble

    Dunedin • Since Nov 2006 • 2622 posts Report Reply

  • anth,

    Obviously this is most worth the money if you want to use your phone as a satnav (which require's TomTom's expensive iPhone app, and also a recent iPhone)

    I wonder how long that price will last now that Google have announced the same function for Android for free

    Since Nov 2006 • 77 posts Report Reply

  • Geoff Lealand,

    Research came out in Italy a couple of weeks ago claiming that yelling at your kids is worse than smacking them.

    I guess they do a great deal of yelling in Italy, if life there is anything like Italian films.

    Screen & Media Studies, U… • Since Oct 2007 • 2560 posts Report Reply

  • George Darroch,

    This included material and equipment for an environmental documentary a former student of mine had been working on outside of NZ for years. That work was effectively sabotaged and years later now, she hasn't been able to work on it or get her irreplaceable stock returned to her.

    I'm really, really, sad to hear that. I know how much time, work, effort, love and dedication she and her fellow filmmakers put into the project, literally dedicating years of their lives towards it - every film is a labour of love, but when you're doing one on a shoestring budget especially so.

    It had nothing to do with "terrorism" or violence, as should be plainly obvious to anyone who knew anything about it. It did however express the desire for a different world, which is quite dangerous it seems.

    WLG • Since Nov 2006 • 2264 posts Report Reply

  • George Darroch,

    Secondly, as the Law Society has pointed this out, it is a common police tactic to wear down opposition by constantly laying and then dropping charges and then laying new charges. This can lead to enormous legal expenses for defendants as each case has to go through depositions and hearings if not trials. The toll it takes psychologically is enormous too.

    Ae marika. I've seen this happen to friends of mine, again political activists who were the subject of a police vendetta.

    Remember that what was nominally anti-terrorism legislation in the UK was used to pursue Icelandic banks.

    Well, by some definitions banking practices are a form of terrorism, but I'm not sure that was the lawmakers' intent!

    WLG • Since Nov 2006 • 2264 posts Report Reply

  • Matthew Poole,

    You can see how one might be a bit worried that some copper with the wrong end of the stick might show up one day and take all my stuff

    Actually, no, I can't. The copper has to go to court and convince a judge. They can't just decide, of their own accord, that your income is illegitimate and then seize your kit. And before they can convince the judge, you get a chance to present your side of the case.

    OK, so those invoices were just emailed PDFs, and some of the companies no longer exist (we'll believe it wasn't your fault, thousands wouldn't :P ), but can you muster not a single testimonial that you actually do consulting work to foreign companies? Or local ones? Remember, balance of probabilities. It's not a huge hurdle. Also, the police would have to be presenting evidence that the income was from illegal activities. It's not illegal to have lots of money coming into your bank accounts from overseas sources, or even terribly dubious. No judge is going to take that alone as evidence that you've been doing anything wrong. It doesn't prove anything, except that you've been getting paid money from overseas, and all that it's really useful for is indicating what kind of lifestyle you could reasonably afford if the money is actually legit.

    Auckland • Since Mar 2007 • 4097 posts Report Reply

  • Matthew Poole,

    If a protest organisation (e.g. Greenpeace) were engaging in illegal behaviour (trespass, criminal damage, etc) to make a point, would any money raised by that organisation be "proceeds of crime"?

    No, that would not make that money "proceeds of crime".

    To quote the relevant section of the Act, In this Act, unless the context otherwise requires, a person has unlawfully benefited from significant criminal activity if the person has knowingly, directly or indirectly, derived a benefit from significant criminal activity (whether or not that person undertook or was involved in the significant criminal activity).

    That you have assets and are a criminal does not make those assets the proceeds of crime. If the assets were stolen, then yes, they would be, but donations are, by definition, given willingly and thus cannot possibly be the proceeds of crime.
    If Greenpeace raises $30k or more by way of criminal activity, then they've got it coming.

    As for the terrorism angle, which I'm sure will be your next recourse, that doesn't fly either. For one thing, as I've already said that would require changes to the Terrorism Suppression Act just for it to be possible to designate Greenpeace as a terrorist organisation. Plus, once that designation hurdle is passed there's provision in the Terrorism Suppression Act for forfeiture of all their assets anyway. That's a much broader power than the one given in the Criminal Proceeds (Recovery) Act, which allows only for the forfeiture of assets that were acquired with the proceeds of crime.

    Auckland • Since Mar 2007 • 4097 posts Report Reply

  • giovanni tiso,

    Research came out in Italy a couple of weeks ago claiming that yelling at your kids is worse than smacking them.

    I guess they do a great deal of yelling in Italy, if life there is anything like Italian films.

    Let's hope they never ban gesticulating. On a slightly more serious note, I have no research to back it up but I'm pretty sure that there is nothing more damaging than *always* speaking calmly to your children.

    Wellington • Since Jun 2007 • 7473 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha,

    Let's hope they never ban gesticulating.

    Bad techno, on the other hand..

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 19740 posts Report Reply

  • Matthew Poole,

    Just to clarify what "balance of probabilities" actually means, it's also known as the "more likely than not" test. That is, is what is alleged is more likely than not to be the case? Alternatively, the 50-per cent-plus-one test.
    For the Police to get a seizure order, they can't just bowl into court and say to the judge "The person has lots of assets, and no job, and we want you to let us seize them." They must produce evidence to convince a judge that, more likely than not, your assets were financed through illegal activities.

    The balance of probabilities is not a new test in the legal system. It's the standard of proof in most civil disputes, so there is quite a significant body of case law that's developed around how to make rulings against such a measure. That won't suddenly go away just because on applicant is the Commissioner of Police, and I suspect that judges will expect a fairly high standard of evidence from the applicant as a way of discouraging fishing expeditions. After all, much of what would be presented to justify a seizure application will likely have been developed with an eye to supporting a prosecution, and that bar remains high no matter what happens at the edges with asset forfeiture.

    Auckland • Since Mar 2007 • 4097 posts Report Reply

  • Rich of Observationz,

    Greenpeace and other groups organise various creative protests, such as banner drops, port blockades, etc. These protests break several laws (trespass, criminal damage, marine regulations, etc).

    These protests have several purposes including raising public and political awareness and also encouraging people to contribute to the organisation. Insofar as those contributions have come about as the result of illegal protests, how are they not "proceeds of crime". On the balance of probabilities, the state might find a judge that thinks so.

    Even if the police can't ulimately forfeit the property, they might use restraining orders (s24) to disrupt the activities of groups they dislke. This doesn't require balance of probabilities, just reasonable suspicion, which can mean anything.

    I don't think any of this is likely to be imminent, but should we get some terrible threat to the established order, like a dock strike, or interference with sport, things could change rapidly. This measure is one more tool the state can use without needing to go back to parliament for more powers.

    Back in Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 5550 posts Report Reply

  • Rich of Observationz,

    Also, in civil cases under balance of probabilities, isn't evidence that would be excluded from a civil trial (hearsay, illegal surveillance, etc) admissible?

    Back in Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 5550 posts Report Reply

  • Matthew Poole,

    I don't know why I'm bothering to try and argue against wilful distortion of the law, but I figure I'm already in this so I may as well continue.

    The link between activities that raise an organisation's profile and the donations that result from that raised profile is incredibly tenuous. To make such a link, and then get a judge to accept that it was from those criminal acts, and no other activities, that the donations flowed, would require some incredible aptitude and circumlocution on the part of the Police. To make such a claim is one thing, but to demonstrate on the balance of probabilities that donations were the result entirely of those criminal activities, and not because of any other pre-existing profile, is quite another. Also, trespass and criminal nuisance don't constitute "significant criminal activity" as defined by the Act. Criminal damage does, but best of luck trying to pick out the individual strands of that tangled web and then quantify the outcome of those actions that do qualify when placed against those that don't.
    Might the Police find a High Court judge who was prepared to entertain such a notion, swallow the incredibly convoluted supporting evidence, and not be in the least bit swayed by the counter arguments that would be put forward by Greenpeace? Yes, I guess that could possibly happen, though I wouldn't want to put money on it. Could they then manage to find two-out-of-three randomly-assigned Court of Appeal judges who would also be similarly swayed and not overturn the ruling of the High Court? Vanishingly tiny odds, but I suppose that it might happen. Could they then get the Supreme Court - and you can be quite certain that the first time any such order was presented it would make it all the way to the top - to also support such an application? Vanishingly tiny odds multiplied by odds that you would struggle to see with an electron microscope.
    Judges are required to interpret an Act as a whole, not just by, as you have done, picking individual sections so that they can choose the worst possible light. Also, where there is potential ambiguity, the intention of Parliament in the passage of the Act is considered. Was this Act passed with the intent of allowing the Police to harass protest groups? Not in any of the discussion that I've read. Was it passed to allow the Police to seize and dispose of the assets of organised criminal groups, such as drug rings and gangs? Yes. Appellate courts tend to pay heed to such things, even if this notional pliable High Court judge were inclined to find some way to justify a ruling that a protest group has been enriched by way of "the proceeds of crime".

    [edit]
    It's one thing to question the motives and integrity of the Police, but quite another to question the integrity of the entire judiciary. And to entertain as plausible the outcomes that you are convinced are possible, one must accept that the NZ judiciary are gullible, stupid and thoroughly ill-disposed to any concept of justice. That is a step too far.

    Even if the police can't ulimately forfeit the property, they might use restraining orders (s24) to disrupt the activities of groups they dislke. This doesn't require balance of probabilities, just reasonable suspicion, which can mean anything.

    Where'd you find this "reasonable suspicion" thing? A restraining order, like any other order under the Act, is the result of a civil hearing, as per section 10. That means that a restraining order is granted or denied under the same balance of probabilities tests as a forfeiture order. The only difference is the outcome of the hearing, not the process that is followed in the hearing. Same standards of evidence apply.

    Auckland • Since Mar 2007 • 4097 posts Report Reply

  • George Darroch,

    Matthew, thanks for your clarifications so far. Most of these points are indeed obvious if you read the Act, but some are not. In the last year I've read a good number of bills and laws, and have been surprised at the clarity of legislation, for the most part. The drafters are careful to make interpretation of the law limited, but they can't foresee all interpretations - which is why a robust select committee process is important. Where all major parties except the Greens are happy to shunt bills through (in many such cases), problems can arise.

    Thankfully all legislation, including all bills, is available now at Legislation.govt.nz - anyone who deals with laws, new or existing, should bookmark this site. It sure beats having to stand in Bennetts!

    WLG • Since Nov 2006 • 2264 posts Report Reply

  • Matthew Poole,

    George, you're most welcome. It's nice to be appreciated :) It helps that I've spent a lot of time learning how to interpret legislation, aimed as such light reads as the Income Tax Act 2007 (which comes in at well over 2000 pages). Figuring that out - and it comes with many, many thousands of pages of tribunal and court decisions that must also be considered - makes this Criminal Proceeds (Recovery) Act look like a couple of minutes with finger weights.

    The statutory clarity situation is helped a lot by the fact that a lot of legislation has been carefully considered during drafting, often over a period of months or even years. That gives the learned minds that do such work time to figure out holes, and also to investigate what has been done in other legislation, be it in NZ or in other jurisdictions. As an interesting point, if you're reading legislation and see "cf. <some law or other>" as a footnote to a section it means "compare with...". I've seen references to Canadian, Australian and Hong Kong statutes in my travels through the NZ statutory space, so the net is thrown wide when drafting.

    And a good example of the benefits of the consultation process, as I've mentioned, is this Surveillance Powers Bill. If the disconnect between intent and interpretation is as wide as it appears to be, that speaks to a bill that was rushed through drafting. We must be thankful that National weren't on their urgency horse that week.

    Auckland • Since Mar 2007 • 4097 posts Report Reply

  • Matthew Poole,

    Rich, I have to ask, why would the Police go to all the trouble of gathering sufficient evidence to support a restraining or forfeiture order when there are far easier ways to harass and disrupt protest groups? Things like getting search warrants alleging criminal activities that would necessitate the seizure of computers and hard-drives, and search warrants are handed out on the basis of your "reasonable suspicion". The added bonus to seizing computers for evidentiary purposes is that the e-crime units are backed up months, if not years, in examining systems, so the organisation would be without its data for a long period of time. That's much, much more disruptive in the short term, and very much easier to organise.

    Auckland • Since Mar 2007 • 4097 posts Report Reply

  • TracyMac,

    Just to derail back to car stereos, totally seconded about the only available option being CD-player-sized jobbies these days, which are not the best thing for 1970 Kingswoods.

    I don't have an iAnything, but my Cowon MP3 player quite happily plugs into anything with a 3.5mm jack. And no, I don't want to cut a too-wide by too-narrow hole in my dash just to play music; CDs really are passe in cars. I'll stick with the headphones for now, meh.

    Canberra, West Island • Since Nov 2006 • 701 posts Report Reply

  • Matthew Poole,

    Way to kill the conversation, Tracy.

    Auckland • Since Mar 2007 • 4097 posts Report Reply

  • George Darroch,

    I don't think anything was killed (I assume you're joking, actually). PAS threads frequently sustain half a dozen topics simultaneously....

    WLG • Since Nov 2006 • 2264 posts Report Reply

  • Matthew Poole,

    Yes, I was joking. I actually seem to have done a better job of killing the conversation. Rich appears to have been scared off. Either that or he's got a "day job" that requires attention today.

    Auckland • Since Mar 2007 • 4097 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha,

    Long as you don't start discussing philosophy or copywrong, we'll be right.

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 19740 posts Report Reply

  • George Darroch,

    Well, I pulled an all-nighter trying to finish a thesis chapter. And I'm still here...

    WLG • Since Nov 2006 • 2264 posts Report Reply

  • Gareth Ward,

    Re the iPhone - you can't do it over any hard-wired format, as the dock connector/headphone out only handle music, not phone calls.

    What you're after is an A2DP Bluetooth capable car headunit. That will stream music AND phone calls wirelessly with the 3.0 OS, even fading your toons as a call comes in etc. Will be in the many hundreds of dollars though I suspect.

    Auckland, NZ • Since Mar 2007 • 1727 posts Report Reply

  • Matthew Poole,

    Sacha, did I mention that I am the author of the post that has now turned into the longest thread in PAS history? *grin*

    Auckland • Since Mar 2007 • 4097 posts Report Reply

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