Monday, April 12, 2010

ZenTiger Judge Jury and Executioner - it's called efficiency, not justice

The Government has developed a disturbing tendency to quickly review and change the law if it is not happy about how it is used. There's obviously a range of justifiable reasons for this, but equally, the triggers that generate this response seem a little disturbing to me.

Labour infamously created it's retrospective legislation to shut down a High Court case against them over the illegal spending of election funds. Well, at least it was illegal until the retrospective legislation.

Then they fiddled with the jury laws, judging that one dissenting voice shouldn't be enough to stop the jury reaching a verdict. They may have also reduced the minimum jury count down from 12 to 11 good men, if I remember rightly.

Then when Clayton Weatherston abused the "provocation" law, and STILL lost his case and was sent up the river for a very long time, they said they had been provoked to simply wipe that defence off the books.

When the Waihopai Three broke the plastic spy base dome, voicing the name of Jesus Christ, it was surely a miracle from heaven that the jury found them not guilty. And that has ired the State sufficiently to again consider simply wiping that particular defence off the books.

Whilst I do not agree with the verdict, I accept it. Whilst I do not agree with the legal argument they made, I accept it is a valid argument. Every case needs to be argued on its own merits, because every case is different. I accept that, and so I accept the jury's verdict even though I personally don't agree with it.

What I don't accept is that the government continue down this path of just wiping laws it feels are inconvenient to what it finds acceptable. They are acting in this capacity as judge, jury and executioner, and that is a separation of power I think we need to keep.

Judge Jury and Executioner all rolled into one? That's seeking efficiency, not justice.


Excerpt:
Officials have begun a review of the "claim of right" defence used by the three men accused in the Waihopai spybase sabotage case, Justice Minister Simon Power says.

Teacher Adrian Leason, 45, Dominican friar Peter Murnane, 69, and farmer Sam Land, 26 [The Waihopai Three]- were acquitted last month on charges of burglary and wilful damage at the Government Communications Security Bureau (GCSB) base in Marlborough.

After cutting through alarmed electric fences without setting off any audible alarms or getting electrocuted, the men reached one of two inflatable domes covering satellite dishes, placed their hands on the plastic skin and said "we disarm you in the name of Jesus Christ", before slashing it with sickles.

The three said they were saving lives in Iraq by disrupting satellite transmissions and were acting for the greater good. A jury in Wellington District Court found them not guilty.

2 comment(s):

Psycho Milt said...

I accept the jury's verdict even though I personally don't agree with it.

That seems to be a rarity these days. Originally it was just Sue Bradford claiming the law has to prevent juries reaching "wrong" decisions, now everybody's at it. None of it constitutes improvement.

scrubone said...

Well, it's another form of nanny state, isn't it?

We can't trust citizens to get the right conclusion in a court of law, so we have to constrain them there too - for their own good.

The difference between here and S59 borderline cases is that this is a clear cut case of breaking the law, using only delusions as a defense - many of the S59 cases were far less clear cut.

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