Island Life by David Slack

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Island Life: Ice-cold rabble rousing

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  • Stephen Judd,

    Our justice system depends on the police doing their jobs properly. When they don't, people walk free.

    No, the police can do their jobs properly and still the defendant walks free. Unless "properly" means "without any human error", in which case, we wouldn't need trials.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 3122 posts Report Reply

  • Craig Ranapia,

    Craig, don't fucking patronise me.

    Oh, you first. I do get that Blade Runner is fiction, and both Clark and Key aren't perfect, soulless replicants. But she's the PRIME MINISTER and Key WANTS TO BE. How about a little sodding leadership, rather than following public opinion (and not particularly well-informed public opinion at that) like mindless sheep?

    Being human -- let alone in positions of authority -- also involves exercising judgement. Knowing when your words should be chosen with the greatest of care, or even when silence is the wisest course of all. Putting glib cynicism aside, Clark and Key aren't stupid people. I think they know why the separation of powers matters, but I'm not so sure they really cared enough to defend it while there was a populist wave of emotion to ride.

    And if they don't, they should get the hell out of politics and get into talkback radio (or editing a major metropolitan newspaper) where pandering isn't only a virtue, it's a necessity. At least the likes of Michael Laws and Leighton Smith aren't going to get their grubby little paws directly on legislation that will actually have a meaningful impact on my life and freedom.

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

  • Paul Rowe,

    Craig, is everything OK? You seem very angry today, across this and other posts. Anything you need to share with the group?

    Lake Roxburgh, Central Ot… • Since Nov 2006 • 574 posts Report Reply

  • Paul Rowe,

    Knowing when your words should be chosen with the greatest of care, or even when silence is the wisest course of all.

    Seriously, I really think both of them did choose their words with care, hence my "string the bastards up" comment above.

    Lake Roxburgh, Central Ot… • Since Nov 2006 • 574 posts Report Reply

  • Neil Morrison,

    ...at hasty police who would not wait to assemble a decent case (and sure, it might have taken a while, but there's no statute of limitations on murder), and who went to court half-arsed expecting to get by on simple public outrage (in short: trusting the jury to be a lynchmob rather than decent citizens who took the law and justice seriously),

    that's your opinion. you have no evidence for any of that.

    Since Nov 2006 • 932 posts Report Reply

  • Kyle Matthews,

    I dont think we have a coroners court as such in this country, somebody correct me if I'm wrong.

    We have a coronial service. I think where they have hearings they use a courtroom, I don't think it's a proper court though.

    Since Nov 2006 • 6243 posts Report Reply

  • Steve Barnes,

    Steve: A prosecution would be hampered because the defence could simply say "six months ago you were dead certain that this other guy did it,and ruled out my client. What has changed? Is it simply that you did not get a conviction the first time, and are now desperately tying to pin the crime on anyone else"

    Absent seriously compelling evidence (and unlike you, I do not take it as a given the police can get it on whoever they wish), this will raise quite reasonable doubts in the minds of most jurors.

    And I said

    I cant see a prosecution following a good and detailed investigation being hampered by the result of a failed conviction in this particular case, the reasonable doubt was based on the probability of "they got the wrong guy/girl" So if the case was strong enough the jury is likely to think "they got the right Guy/Girl this time"

    The difference to what you are saying is in "following a good and detailed investigation"
    as opposed to

    Absent seriously compelling evidence this will raise quite reasonable doubts in the minds of most jurors.

    I think we actually agree, but the devil is in the detail.

    Peria • Since Dec 2006 • 5521 posts Report Reply

  • Kyle Matthews,

    Fundamentally, the case failed because the police did not present sufficient evidence to convince a jury beyond a reasonable doubt. But instead of pointing the finger where it belongs - at hasty police who would not wait to assemble a decent case

    That's a possible answer.

    It is of course entirely possible that the police had eliminated all avenues of enquiry, interviewed fully everyone, and no more evidence was forthcoming, or indeed looked likely to come out. They therefore took it to court with what they had.

    There's obviously a pretty large piece of evidence missing - possibly two. The killer/s knew what happened, and maybe one or more other people know what happened. Neither of those two things are forthcoming however.

    In that case, what would we have the police do? They can't just put it on a shelf and wait for evidence that is never forthcoming. At some stage they have to make an arrest based on what they know (if they think they have a chance in court) and progress.

    It's only a bad play if future evidence comes out which would have made their case stronger. I'm guess that's a judgement that they've made that those crucial pieces of evidence aren't going to come out at all.

    My guess would be that the police "know" they got the right guy, the definitive 'we will not be charging anyone else' seems to back up that guess. They just didn't have the evidence to convict.

    Since Nov 2006 • 6243 posts Report Reply

  • Andrew Paul Wood,

    Unfortunately these things happen sometimes - but we put up with the flaws in the justice system because the alternative is totalitarianism. There will always be human error and sometimes there is reasonable doubt - as any one of the teeming myriads of TV legal dramas should have hammered home by now.

    Christchurch • Since Jan 2007 • 175 posts Report Reply

  • Craig Ranapia,

    Craig, is everything OK? You seem very angry today, across this and other posts. Anything you need to share with the group?

    I receive my psychoanalysis from qualified professionals who are in the same room, and I'm perfectly happy with that status quo. What I'm not happy with is the Prime Minister and leader of the Opposition behaving like Winston Peters in full vote-whore mode. That should make any sane and rational person very cross indeed. But I guess defending the rule of law, and the separation of powers is "political correctness gone mad" or pointy-head wank.

    Now if you'd excuse me,. I've got to see how the gallows being constructed over at Kiwiblog for Clayton Weatherston is getting on. Really, who needs all this PC 'law' crap, this is so much more fun. Well, unless Ian Crutchley gets a prison sentence -- then expect a 180 degree turn in mid-sentence.

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

  • Neil Morrison,

    is it possible to get the bit preceding

    I certainly would urge them (police) not to...

    the "certainly" suggests she's already made some other points which might shed a bit of light on what she's saying.

    Since Nov 2006 • 932 posts Report Reply

  • Steve Barnes,

    In that case, what would we have the police do? They can't just put it on a shelf and wait for evidence that is never forthcoming. At some stage they have to make an arrest based on what they know (if they think they have a chance in court) and progress.

    As IS stated before there is no statute of limitations on murder so the police could have just not prosecuted until they had a solid case, however long it took. Are we really seeing the result of "trial by Media" forcing the hand of the police? is there a chance that they brought the prosecution because if they had waited longer so much would have come out in the Media that a fair trial would have been nigh on impossible?
    If that is the case then what is the solution?

    Peria • Since Dec 2006 • 5521 posts Report Reply

  • Andrew Paul Wood,

    There is no solution, hence the result.

    Christchurch • Since Jan 2007 • 175 posts Report Reply

  • David Slack,

    is it possible to get the bit preceding

    Neil, sorry, I meant to reply the first time you asked.

    The clip of her Breakfast interview is here.

    Devonport • Since Nov 2006 • 599 posts Report Reply

  • Steve Barnes,

    Q: What happens if somebody has been charged with causing the death?

    Where an individual has been charged with causing someone's death, e.g. by murder or manslaughter, the Coroner may either:
    postpone opening an inquiry;
    open and adjourn an inquiry; or
    adjourn an inquiry,

    pending the outcomes of any criminal charges. Before the inquiry is adjourned, the Coroner will establish the identity of the deceased and the cause of death. The Coroner will then register the death.

    The Coroner may later open or resume an inquiry if satisfied that any charges against the person have been dropped or that to open or resume the inquiry would not prejudice the person charged, or thought likely to be charged, with a criminal offence relating to the death or its circumstances. In many cases, the Coroner will wait until any trial is over.

    From Here
    This would suggest that the Coroner could reopen an enquiry now that the trial is over and it seems unlikely that the police wish to appeal.
    However. The coroner could only find cause and maybe time of death. They have no power to prosecute.

    Peria • Since Dec 2006 • 5521 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown,

    My guess would be that the police "know" they got the right guy, the definitive 'we will not be charging anyone else' seems to back up that guess. They just didn't have the evidence to convict.

    They also hurt their case by being a bit too cute with evidence that didn't help it, and I think they may have placed too much weight on the original medical evidence, which came back to bite them when a credible alternative analysis was presented by the defence (the role of the expert brain doctor on the jury might be cause for endless speculation).

    I honestly don't even have a clear suspicion as to who dunnit. I'm more in the how-do-we-make-this-not-happen-again camp.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22848 posts Report Reply

  • Andrew Paul Wood,

    Could the police or the Children's Comission case be taken to the Supreme Court or the Privvy Council or whatever we have these days? What about a civil case?

    Christchurch • Since Jan 2007 • 175 posts Report Reply

  • Kyle Matthews,

    As IS stated before there is no statute of limitations on murder so the police could have just not prosecuted until they had a solid case, however long it took.

    Well from the police point of view, there are two things to consider:

    1. If there is, as far as you can tell, no likelihood of further evidence coming forth, then waiting is going to serve no purpose. I presume that's the conclusion that they reached. I suspect they've collected all the evidence that they're going to get, the bit they are missing is a confession, and that clearly isn't coming forth.

    2. While there may be no statute of limitations, it's in the interests of society and the public to make an arrest and bring the case to court as soon as reasonably possible. This is done for a number of reasons. Witnesses and their memories is one. If the court case is ten years down the track, then it's going to be easier for the defense to say "is that really what happened, are you sure you remember?", and it's going to be more difficult for witnesses to remember stuff. They're going to be relying on their statements at the time which may not look as good in court. Another is that there's an un-convicted killer wandering the streets. Until they are arrested they're a completely free person. There's flight risk, there's the possibility that they might commit another crime before they're arrested and put under bail conditions. In this instance, if the suspect started fathering more children, it's going to start to look pretty silly, and potentially a risk for more people.

    Waiting to collect more evidence is fine, but only if there's more evidence that they haven't found that might be forthcoming. This trial wasn't exactly rushed to arrest, or to court, they took months collecting evidence and putting pressure on the family before making an arrest, and then another two years or so before the trial took place.

    I suspect the police will be very unhappy that it took the jury about the length of a smoko break to return with a not-guilty verdict, and if that's the reflection of their case then maybe they did screw up taking it to court. Waiting another year or two wouldn't have necessarily changed the end result one bit however.

    Since Nov 2006 • 6243 posts Report Reply

  • Steve Barnes,

    Well put Kyle.
    What would you say if the police now came out and said "We got it wrong. It's just one of those times when you blind yourself to evidence that doesn't fit your case. We are going back to have a fresh look so that all invoved can find closure"?
    I, for one, will not be holding my breath on that one but what if they did?

    Peria • Since Dec 2006 • 5521 posts Report Reply

  • Andrew Paul Wood,

    So is this our OJ Simpson trial?

    Christchurch • Since Jan 2007 • 175 posts Report Reply

  • Henry Harrison,

    I'd like to see us celebrating our effective justice system in action - for once. At the moment we have one set of commentary about a young black man who the courts have determined did not kill his kids, while simultaneously we have another about an older (possibly Pakeha) man who the courts have determined did kill his elderly mother while she was in terminal pain. In both instances, the public comment seems to be overwhelmingly running against the verdicts.

    For myself, I am immensely thankful that I live in a country where the burden of proof is strong enough to keep the state from locking me up on whim. If we are going to rely on the rule of law (and lawyers) then we should either be thankful for the results or change the system.

    Wellington • Since May 2008 • 11 posts Report Reply

  • Stephen Judd,

    "So is this our OJ Simpson trial?"

    I don't think so. Public consensus seems to be that OJ did do it. My initial, gut reaction, was that in the Kahui case defence made Macsyne King look pretty suspicious. And I think a lot of people think that.

    "In both instances, the public comment seems to be overwhelmingly running against the verdicts."

    Is that really true? I confess I haven't been following commentary elsewhere, but I'm surprised to hear that. I thought this was one of the more convincing acquittals of recent times.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 3122 posts Report Reply

  • Henry Harrison,

    "I thought this was one of the more convincing acquittals of recent times."

    I'd agree with that, but it is not so much the outcome for the individual that I am getting at, but a publicly expressed dissatisfaction with the process producing a verdict and an outcome just as it is designed to do.

    The rules produce those results, and if, at the end of the day, no one is found guilty for the twins murder, or a compassionate man is sentenced for having done something that many of us might also have done in his circumstances, then that is the consequence of the system that we have. Something that we might perhaps have the good grace to accept, or even, as I think we should, celebrate.

    Not everything has the neat ending that we might wish for, and in a democratic society messiness is the price we pay for fairness and transparency. If we are going to change the rules, let us do so in an evenhanded way, and not, as the Sensible Sentencing Trust does, forgive the middle aged man who kills a tagger, while calling for tougher sentences on young people who kill each other.

    Wellington • Since May 2008 • 11 posts Report Reply

  • Kyle Matthews,

    What would you say if the police now came out and said "We got it wrong. It's just one of those times when you blind yourself to evidence that doesn't fit your case. We are going back to have a fresh look so that all invoved can find closure"?
    I, for one, will not be holding my breath on that one but what if they did?

    I can't imagine they'd come out and say that. Both because I don't think that's what they're looking at, and even if they did, they'd struggle to turn themselves completely around like that. Admitting you're wrong isn't a large part of the police culture.

    But if that was the conclusion that they reached and they were open enough to go down that new path, that would be a good thing.

    Since Nov 2006 • 6243 posts Report Reply

  • Raymond A Francis,

    My personal view is the police should have charged both parents with murder Any other approach was and has ended up with both them (or rather their lawyers) claiming the other did it

    Instead of the pollies chiming in about police procedures how about dealing with the real problem..poor parenting etc etc

    45' South • Since Nov 2006 • 578 posts Report Reply

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