Legal Beagle by Graeme Edgeler

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Legal Beagle: On Gell-Mann Amnesia; or You Suck at This

36 Responses

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  • Alfie,

    "...Delegat's conviction arises not out of drunkenness, but serious violence."
    Lizzie Marvelly

    Dunedin • Since May 2014 • 1386 posts Report Reply

  • Dennis Frank,

    I've been trending towards the view expressed by Kevin (that jail doesn't actually work as a deterrent to crime). However, a basic principle of justice is that it must be seen to be done. I wonder why the judiciary always demonstrate their collective inability to grasp this concept.

    Breeding disrespect for the justice system in the public mind is not in our common interest. Alternatives to jail time do actually need generate a widespread perception of credibility.

    Graeme asks: "Why, in the biggest criminal justice story in New Zealand for several days, did not a single news article (well, not a single news article accessible on google news at any rate) mention what the person at the centre of it was actually convicted of?" My explanation: for younger generations (the media market) perception now equates with reality. Often a story about popular perceptions will seem better than one that merely reports facts.

    The media must reflect cultural fashions, so postmodern reporting goes with that flow. Delusional tendencies abound. The mental discipline required to get a grip on reality just seems too hard for many players. Trumpism.

    "Police did not agree to reduce a more serious charge to a charge of assault or assault on a Police officer, they agreed to reduce a more serious charge to a charge of aggravated assault. The maximum penalty for assault on a police officer is six months in prison. The maximum penalty for aggravated assault is three years in prison." So the judge chose zero prison time due to the damage done to the policewoman being so negligible?

    New Zealand • Since Jun 2016 • 292 posts Report Reply

  • izogi, in reply to Dennis Frank,

    My explanation: for younger generations (the media market) perception now equates with reality. Often a story about popular perceptions will seem better than one that merely reports facts.

    And/or maybe the standard journalism degree doesn't necessarily impart the wide and mixed range of skills that many of us expect from a journalist. I'm sure there are always exceptions and exceptional circumstances, but perhaps it's also a consequence of very few journalists out there who actually understand how to locate, read and interpret something like a court document? Maybe it's mostly coming from hearsay, lobby group press releases, reports from others and enraged feedback from random members of the public via social media? Or not.

    After a quick google there's something which doesn't sit quite right with me when I see that Massey, for example, combines Journalism with Communication and Marketing into the same school. Wasn't there a time when news media businesses sourced their staff from places where they already had actual experience in things, and then trained them up? I guess times change.

    Wellington • Since Jan 2007 • 1139 posts Report Reply

  • Kevin McCready,

    Dennis, read the book and you might grasp it. Professor John Pratt and Anna Eriksson, Contrasts in Punishment: An Explanation of Anglophone Excess and Nordic Exceptionalism (2012 Routledge, ISBN: 9780415524735)

    The point is the willful ignorance of people who should know better making comments based on their "reckons" rather than with a knowledge of the science. It's like climate deniers saying "see a cold day, there's no such thing as global warming."

    For background, John says the Sensible Sentencing Trust contributes to the process of penal populism (Laura Norder) whereby victims groups gain political influence. Garth McVicar appears to be opposed to the rehabilitation of prisoners. In November 2011 the Sunday Star Times ran an article about the book, Flying Blind, by alcohol and drug counsellor, Roger Brooking, in which Mr Brooking advocates "setting up a drug court, increasing rehabilitation programmes, and investing in halfway houses." Mr McVicar responded with a press release saying: "The fact that two thirds of prisoners have drug and alcohol problems is not the fault of Corrections or prison" and that "therapy would be a good Tui Bill Board promotion – but a disastrous Corrections policy."

    Auckland • Since Jun 2013 • 119 posts Report Reply

  • Dennis Frank, in reply to Kevin McCready,

    Thanks Kevin, I'll look out for it. I wrote the initial section on rehabilitation in the Green Party justice policy when I was convenor of the working group in the early '90s and still agree with the principle.

    However it appears that in practice some offenders resist application. Due either to too much damage done to them when younger or innate inability to reform. In regard to those cases I'm more inclined to the SST stance.

    Could be that SST has a jaundiced view of rehabilitation because they see it as a failure? I've noticed the media tends not to front with comparative success/failure stats. That could be because neither they nor the state want to discover or tell the truth. Has any university has done the requisite research on this?

    New Zealand • Since Jun 2016 • 292 posts Report Reply

  • st ephen, in reply to Sacha,

    ...anybody who thrusts a broken bottle at a person's throat half a dozen times is charged with at least that.

    ??? Sure, but what has that got to do with the case Graeme linked to in his attempt to show the even hand of justice?

    dunedin • Since Jul 2008 • 254 posts Report Reply

  • Bart Janssen, in reply to Lucy Stewart,

    because it would have been materially less horrible if he’d hit a male police officer

    No it would have been just as horrible. But as a measure of how distanced this boy is from social norms then assaulting a woman is less normal than assaulting a man (and I agree that shouldn't be the case). Neither should be acceptable and both are equally horrible. But the point is this boy is comfortable stepping way out side the normally acceptable behaviour.

    While I agree that locking him up may not rehabilitate him I also think there are pretty strong warning signals here that indicate this boy needs significant mental health assistance. Not just an alcohol treatment program.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 4451 posts Report Reply

  • Lucy Stewart, in reply to Bart Janssen,

    But as a measure of how distanced this boy is from social norms then assaulting a woman is less normal than assaulting a man (and I agree that shouldn’t be the case).

    I take your point, although the cynical thought occurs that this is only true when men assault women whom society does not consider them to have some degree of 'ownership' over.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 2105 posts Report Reply

  • Kevin McCready,

    Bart, it's highly debatable whether jailing people sends an effective deterrent message. Roger Brookings' book Flying Blind certainly says no, despite the apparent "common sense" of the proposition.

    Auckland • Since Jun 2013 • 119 posts Report Reply

  • Martin Brown, in reply to Lucy Stewart,

    Surely Male Assaults Female?

    Auckland • Since Mar 2013 • 136 posts Report Reply

  • Bart Janssen, in reply to Kevin McCready,

    Bart, it’s highly debatable whether jailing people sends an effective deterrent message.

    I agree. My point was he probably needs psychiatric care (if necessary enforced).

    This is less about criminality than identifying someone who is behaving in a way that suggests his future actions could be even worse and treating that behaviour now.

    And yes all the studies show punishments do not reduce criminality. The probability of being caught reduces criminality.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 4451 posts Report Reply

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