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Participate: a better criminal trial?

Written By: - Date published: 10:55 am, April 9th, 2012 - 4 comments
Categories: democratic participation, law - Tags:

This isn’t strictly political, and there’s no partisan edge here, but I think it is important that democratic participation informs the way the judiciary works.

The Law Commission is looking at better trial processes, to get a fairer system.  You can have your say on their proposals.

Rape and sex crimes have very low prosecution and conviction rates; trials can often feel like a second violation for the victim – how can we achieve better justice in these cases?

Are there ways we can improve the efficiency of the system without unsafe convictions?  Justice delayed is justice denied, but justice rushed can be no justice at all if evidence is missed or a chance to argue denied.

Can we learn from other systems?  With Simon Power no longer Justice Minister the push for an inquisitorial system (instead of our adversarial system) is lessened, but that would lessen the ordeal for victims in cross-examination.

Are 12 ordinary citizens as a jury always best?  Or are public prejudices brought to bear and legal points lost?  Would a mix of professional jurors & private citizens work better?

I’m not offering the answers, but make sure you say your piece before Friday 27 April.

4 comments on “Participate: a better criminal trial? ”

  1. RedBaron 1

    My advice would be don’t get sucked in by this.

    This has been dumped on the Law Commission, who no doubt fell over themselves to accept, to give a veneer of respectability [window dressing] to right-wing changes and no doubt the legislation has already been drawn up. How convenient that it happens right now!

    Summary trial is the aim here I suspect. Any idea that it will result in better or fairer access to justice for some, any or all of young people, minority groups, children,women or poor people is an illusion.

    Most of the problems with the system are well-known and never impinge on well-heeled males. If they do are dealt with pronto. There would probably be more equity if High Court judges got a few training sessions in this stuff.

    Remember the alcohol papers of a couple of years back?
    Don’t misunderstand me, I don’t think it is smart to get legless at any age, and I doubt that we need plural liquor outlets or wealthy alcohol barons. Excess alcohol does do harm.

    At the conclusion of that paper anyone who read the media and press releases would be thinking that our entire alcohol problem and attendant societal damage was caused by young people and in particular young women. All the framing around this, the photo’s, police statements focused on the young and young women in particular. Much of it had a controlling aura around women.
    Now I doubt that this group cause the most damage overall. That is likely to be reserved for the middling age or older chronic drinker who has worked their way through a couple of families.

    This framing was a diversion meaning no substantive discussions or changes around the profitability of alcohol to a few.

    This Courts “consultation” will go the same way.

  2. Ed 2

    Would making a submission strongly opposing changes you would not want to see be equivalent to being “sucked in”?

  3. RedBaron 3

    I actually have some strong opposing views on some of the propositions but

    – these reviews only ask questions that they have already determined the answers too, relevant issues that don’t suit the narrative are pre selected out.
    – submissions can be quoted out of context and then framed to make it appear that you are supporting an issue not opposing it.
    – submitting validates the idea that these are the problems….. The result is “we consulted, Oh look 50 people replied, here’s what we do” but this narrative fails to mention that all 50 are deeply opposed to the suggested outcome.

    How much do you trust the Law Commission toframe the issues widely, reflect the views it receives fairly and do you trust the Nacts not to spin or cherry pick those views?

    Other considerations are release of your personal details – the Paula Bennett scenario
    and if they happen to be select committee submissions can I suggest you form a pressure group of one calling yourself “action group for ….” because all parliamentary submissions are now posted on the internet, available for search by such people as employers who many not like, say your submissions on unions.

  4. bad12 4

    Perhaps there is a deep well of insight to be gained from querying a number of New Zealand’s former Ministers of Justice on these questions,

    After all Graeham and Jeffries have had huge experience in the Law and its application from Maken it to Breaken it and on to as an end result Taken it as far as punishment goes,

    Doug and Co might like to bring any number of their fellow directors into the discussion, better still we could round the f***king lot of them up and toss them into an old cold jail cell for a month or 12 whereupon we would expect to receive some well balanced reccomendations on changes to the Law via reactionary knee-jerking from within Government…

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