Right to die is right to kill

June 5, 2015

Justice David Collins has ruled it is up to parliament to amend the Crimes Act to give doctors the right to help patients die without prosecution.

Lecretia Seales was unsuccessful in seeking a landmark High Court ruling to allow her doctor to help her die without criminal prosecution.

Justice David Collins released his judgment at 3pm which rejected her bid and said only Parliament can give her what she wanted. . .

Ms Seales died of natural causes at 12.35am this morning, just hours after her family and lawyers received the ruling.

The health of the 42-year-old Wellington lawyer with terminal brain cancer had deteriorated rapidly in the days since her court case last week where she was seeking a declaration that a doctor would not risk prosecution if they were to help her die.

Her family said they were “very disappointed with Justice Collin’s judgment. He found in our favour in relation to the evidence before him, but his interpretation of the purpose of the law meant he could not find aid in dying was available to Lecretia or inconsistent with the Bill of Rights.”

They added: “The judgment has starkly highlighted that the status quo is not ideal; that people are at risk of intolerable suffering and are at risk of ending their lives earlier than they would otherwise. Justice Collins was clear that it is for Parliament to address these issues. . .

The grief Lucretia’s family and friends will be dealing with will be compounded by their disappointment that the case which occupied so much of her final weeks was unsuccessful.

They might choose to honour her memory by campaigning for a law change.

None of us would choose to suffer nor to watch anyone we love suffer.

That suffering might not just be intense physical pain, it could be the loss of dignity which physical and/or mental deterioration can lead to.

But euthanasia is not just about people’s control over their own lives and deaths.

As I wrote on this issue six years ago:

. . . There might be a grey area now about pain relief which gets to the level where it could be fatal but there is a huge gulf between alleviating pain and deliberately killing someone.

If we ever consider our own mortality most of us would choose to die without pain and with all our faculties intact.

Life and death aren’t always that tidy and palliative care isn’t always optimal.

That is a very strong argument for better palliative care, not an argument for euthanasia. . .

Those arguing for euthanasia talk about the right to die.

Let us not forget that it would give doctors the right to kill.

UPDATE:

The judgement is here.

The family’s response to the judgement is here.


Banks acquitted

May 19, 2015

The case against former Auckland mayor and Act leader John Banks has been thrown out:

The Crown misled the Court of Appeal by failing to disclose a document to John Banks ahead of an appeal hearing, according to a new judgment.

But the three senior judges this was an “error of judgment rather than misconduct”.

The case against Mr Banks has been thrown out and he will not face a second trial for allegedly filing a false electoral return.

The Court of Appeal has sensationally reversed its previous decision to order a retrial following the late disclosure of a document, which Mr Banks’ lawyer David Jones QC said “contradicts all evidence given at trial” by the Dotcom witnesses and made the prosecution “untenable”.

In a judgment just released by the Court of Appeal, Justices Ellen France, Forrest Miller and John Wild ruled that Mr Banks should not stand trial again and he was acquitted.

The senior judges disagreed with the Crown’s argument that the ‘Butler memorandum’ did not need to be disclosed.

“We hold rather that the Crown could not both withhold the memorandum and resist the appeal in the manner that it did. The effect was to mislead the Court.

“We are satisfied that there has been a serious error of process. It is, we accept, attributable to an error of judgment rather than misconduct.” . .

 That error of judgement does not reflect well on the court.

The trial largely hinged on the credibility of who was right about a contentious lunch at the Dotcom mansion. Banks was convicted but his wife Amanda later unearthed new witnesses who corroborated their version of events, so the Court of Appeal quashed the conviction and ordered a retrial. . . .

Mrs Banks, understandably, did not take kindly to the judge in the earlier case accepting Kim Dot Com’s word rather than hers:

 . . The Court of Appeal’s decision notes Mrs Banks “was stung by the Judge’s opinion of her reliability”.

“She became quite obsessed as she puts it, with identifying the two Americans. . .

That obsession led to the evidence which secured her husband’s acquittal.

 


What does this teach?

March 24, 2015

“What would have happened if you told your parents you’d been punished for something you’d done at school?”

The question came from a teacher and my reply was simple – I wouldn’t have told them because I’d have got no sympathy and might have invited further punishment.

Had I felt I’d been unfairly dealt to and my parents agreed with me, the best I could have expected from them was acceptance that it was unfortunate but they would still have supported the school.

The teacher sighed and said if only they still had that level of support from parents. Instead, they got parents swearing black was white and their little angels could do no wrong.

That conversation was more than a decade ago and the teacher wasn’t then having to deal with legal action.

The St Bede’s College rowers axed from their Maadi Cup rowing team for breaching airport security say they took court action due to concerns over the school’s decision-making process and have questioned whether the punishment was fair.  . .

Teen rowers Jack Bell and Jordan Kennedy were removed from the school’s Maadi Cup rowing team after being given formal warnings by police and the Aviation Security Service for jumping on a baggage conveyor at Auckland Airport on Friday.

The pupils, who had just arrived on a domestic flight from Christchurch, rode the carousel through rubber curtains and into a restricted baggage area, the Civil Aviation Authority said.

The school ruled the pupils should be sent home. However, their parents, Shane Kennedy and Antony Bell, were granted a High Court injunction allowing their sons to stay and compete in the Maadi Cup.

A statement, released by the boys and their families on Monday afternoon, said the court action was never intended to justify their actions or to suggest the school was not entitled to take disciplinary action.

“The only reason for the court action was due to concerns over the school’s decision-making process and over whether or not the decision as made was proportionate to the misbehaviour. The court action was certainly not taken lightly,” the statement said.

“They accept that what they did was stupid. No harm was meant and it was intended as nothing more than a prank.

“All parties are aware that following a full and fair investigation about the incident that there may well be disciplinary consequences.” . . .

Rector Justin Boyle says this sets a dangerous precedent:

St Bede’s rector Justin Boyle said the action could be seen as undermining the school’s authority.

“What it’s doing there is is taking away the ability of the school to manage their children and any educational activity outside the classroom.”

Mr Boyle said the school’s board was meeting today to consider what actions it would take.

St Bede’s lawyer Andrew McCormick said it was important the school got a decision on whether it was right to discipline the pupils.

He said the substantive hearing could not be held until the regatta is over, so the penalty becomes moot.

But he said there were broader implications as to whether schools and principals can exercise their discretion and discipline students. . .

The Principals’ Federation says this is a worrying trend.

Principals’ Federation president Denise Torrey says it sends the wrong message to students.

“The boys didn’t learn that there are consequences to your actions and that the whole reason we have rules or a code of conduct is to outline expected behaviour.”

Ms Torrey says parents taking action in the courts is a worrying trend. . . .

No-one is arguing about what the boys did nor whether it was wrong to do it.

The court action was questioning the school’s process.

And what does that teach children?

That if they do something stupid, breach the school’s code of conduct they can get a court to stop the school imposing the logical consequences of that, not because the boys were wronged but because the school might have got the process wrong.

Once more it appears that the right process is more important than what’s right and wrong.


Court backs blokes’ right to stand

January 23, 2015

A German court has backed blokes’ right to stand to pee:

A court in Germany is ruling in favour of a man’s right to urinate while standing up, after his landlord demanded money for damage to the bathroom floor.

The landlord, who was seeking €1900 ($NZ2878), claims the marble floor was damaged by urine that missed the toilet bowl.

But a Duesseldorf judge ruled that the man’s method was within cultural norms and said “urinating standing up is still common practice”.

Some German toilets have red traffic-style signs forbidding the standing position – but those who choose to sit are often referred to as a “Sitzpinkler”, implying it is not masculine behaviour. . .

The judge was a bloke.

Had it been a woman she might have had more sympathy for the landlord, or at least ordered the bloke to aim better or clean up after himself.


Personal and political

May 27, 2014

That Kim Dotcom doesn’t like Prime Minister John Key should have been obvious to anyone who’s taken even a cursory interest in the news.

But yesterday’s testimony by Rodney MP Mark Mitchell, a witness for the defence in the case against John Banks, shows something beyond dislike that appears to be both personal and political:

Kim Dotcom vowed to “destroy” John Banks and Prime Minister John Key, MP Mark Mitchell has told the High Court in Auckland.

Mitchell, the National MP for Rodney, today gave evidence for the defence at ACT MP Banks’ trial for filing a false electoral return.

Mitchell said he had met Dotcom at a barbecue in his electorate where the internet entrepreneur was “agitated” about the case to extradite Dotcom to the US on criminal copyright charges.

He said Dotcom told him: “I’m going to destroy John Key, I’m going to take down John Banks, I’m going to take down the Government.”

Mitchell’s other evidence was suppressed. . .

Dotcom ought to be very grateful he’s in New Zealand which shows a great deal more respect for the law and democracy than he appears to.

In many other countries that sort of tirade against a Prime Minister and MP would result in a charge of treason and in some they wouldn’t bother with such niceties as a fair trial before reaching a verdict.


Mr Fines

February 2, 2014

Consequences for people who ignore reparation payments or fines for traffic offences are going to be tougher from next month:

People with unpaid fines or reparation for traffic-related offences could find themselves barred from driving under powerful new sanctions which come into effect this month, Courts Minister Chester Borrows says.

From Monday 17 February ‘Driver Licence Stop Orders’ (DLSOs) can be imposed on anyone who fails to pay traffic-related fines imposed on them by a Court, Police or a local government authority – or a reparation order imposed on them by a Court – for a traffic-related offence.

Mr Borrows says DLSOs are a powerful new sanction, which will initially be targeted at repeat offenders who’ve racked up big overdue debts.

“There are around 136,000 people who between them owe $48 million in traffic related fines and are making no attempt to pay,” Mr Borrows says.

“A lot of them have chosen to ignore repeated reminders and if they remain uncooperative they’ll pay for it with their driver licence.

“We will focus initially on the worst offenders, but anyone with an overdue fine should seize this opportunity to contact the Ministry of Justice and make a payment arrangement if they wish to hold on to their licence.”

The Ministry of Justice, which will hand out the new sanction, will start by giving people with large amounts owing 14 days’ notice to either pay up or set up a payment plan.  They’ll get one more reminder, and if they’re not compliant a bailiff will be sent to seize their driver licence.

Their licences will remain suspended until the fine is paid in full, or payment arrangements are in place.  And if they’re caught driving while their licence is suspended they could be prosecuted, and have the vehicle they were driving seized for 28 days.

“Of course the aim here isn’t to suspend lots of driver licences,” Mr Borrows says.

“The aim is to get people who’ve been ignoring the authority of law to take things seriously, and to pay their traffic-related fines.

“We’ve made big inroads in recent years in getting people to pay fines – thanks to sanctions such as the powers to seize property, stop people from travelling overseas, stop people making purchases on credit, and directly deducting money from wages. 

“Those measures have seen the total level of unpaid fines and reparation fall by nearly a quarter of a billion dollars since 2009.  But that still leaves $554.4 million in unpaid fines – the vast majority of offenders (96%) owing money for vehicle-related offences.  In that context, the ability to bar people from driving is a powerful new tool to enforce penalties, because driving matters to most people with fines.”

A new television, radio and online advertising campaign will launch on Sunday 2 February, letting people know about DLSOs and other enforcement powers, and encouraging those with unpaid traffic fines or reparation to arrange payment.


What’s news?

December 2, 2013

Cameron Slater who runs Whaleoil has been ordered by a judge to reveal his sources because his blog “isn’t a news medium”.

But media law expert says he has a good case to appeal.

. . . Media lawyer Steven Price says he appears to have a good case because the act defines a news medium as one that disseminates news, which he says Whale Oil does.

And he said, a recent Law Commission report talks about bloggers being important to free speech.

A paper on media law at university while studying journalism more than three decades ago doesn’t make me a media law expert.

But I went to the dictionary and found the definition of news:newly received or noteworthy information, especially about recent events.

Whale Oil breaks a lot of stories which appears to fit that definition.

 


Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 1,690 other followers

%d bloggers like this: