Not guilty not necessarily innocent

August 2, 2016

Justice Minister Amy Adams has confirmed that David Bain’s application for compensation for wrongful conviction and imprisonment has been concluded:

“This case has been one of the most complex, unique and high profile cases New Zealand has ever known,” says Ms Adams.

Ian Callinan QC, a former Justice of Australia’s highest court, was appointed by Ms Adams on 19 March 2015 to provide advice on Mr Bain’s claim. Mr Callinan’s report was received by the Minister on 27 January 2016.

“Mr Callinan’s report found that Mr Bain has not established his innocence on the balance of probabilities. As such, no statement of innocence or compensation payment will be made to Mr Bain.

“However, the Crown recognises that the compensation application process has lasted nearly six and a half years and that this has been an incredibly difficult and complicated case for all involved. Reaching this point has taken longer than anyone would have wanted it to.

“In addition, since receiving Mr Callinan’s final report it has become evident that Mr Bain and his advisors didn’t accept Mr Callinan’s findings. They made it absolutely clear that they intended to legally challenge that report, leading to considerable further cost and delay in this matter.

“While the Crown is confident in the strength of its position in any such review, it’s clearly desirable to bring finality to this case and avoid the cost and uncertainty of further proceedings.

“In my view, no one benefits from this matter continuing to drag on. In light of that, the Crown has agreed to make an ex gratia payment of $925,000 in recognition of the time involved and expenses incurred by Mr Bain during the compensation process, and the desirability of avoiding further litigation.”

Mr Bain has accepted this payment in full and final settlement of all matters.

“This resolution is a pragmatic one that recognises the unique circumstances of this case and a desire on all sides to bring this matter to a close,” says Ms Adams.

“While many New Zealanders hold strong views on the case, the complexities of the evidence and the opinions that evidence has given rise to, are such that those views are likely to continue to be firmly held without clear resolution.”

“While the issue has divided opinion in New Zealand, I am satisfied that the matter has at least now been concluded.”

The Minister is quite clear the payment is an ex gratia one and not compensation but that won’t stop others using it as a precedent.

The two Callinan reports are  here and here.

From part way down page 114 in the first one, Mr Callinan lists objective or otherwise incontestable facts.

From page 118 he lists contestable facts.

From page 138 he gives his conclusion and the reasons for it.

New Zealand juries are required to find people guilty or not guilty beyond reasonable doubt. If the jury has reasonable doubt as to the accused’s guilt it has to opt for not guilty.

Being found not guilty beyond reasonable doubt doesn’t mean the accused has been proven to be innocent.

Unlike in a court, Bain and his supporters had to provide enough evidence to find him innocent and Mr Callinan found they were unable to do so.


Home should be safe

August 6, 2015

Justice Minister Amy Adams has launched a review into New Zealand’s family violence legislation:

“Combating family violence is my top priority. The rate of family violence in New Zealand is horrific. While the Government has a comprehensive work programme underway, I think the law can do more to reduce the incidence and impact of family violence,” says Ms Adams.

“This review won’t shy away from taking a hard look at our laws and raising some challenging questions. The reality is if we want different outcomes we have to be prepared to do things differently.

The law underpins our response to family violence, so we need to make sure the broad set of laws that apply to family violence are effective and work well together.

The discussion document raises a number of starters for discussion, including:

  • establishing a set of standalone family violence offences
  • creating an additional pathway for victims, perpetrators and whānau who want help to stop violence, but don’t want to have to go to court
  • ideas about improving the accessibility and effectiveness of protection orders
  • doing a better job of sharing information where family violence concerns arise between agencies and within the courts
  • considering compelling police action in certain circumstances such as requiring mandatory arrest for all breaches of protection orders
  • more prominence to victim safety in related legislation like the Care of Children Act and bail and sentencing law.

“When it was passed in 1995, the Domestic Violence Act was world-leading. It set out a clear response to family violence and distinguished it from other forms of crimes. While successive Governments have modified it over the years, it’s time for a rethink,” says Ms Adams.

“Laws are not the whole picture. We can’t legislate our way out of this. But our laws are a cornerstone element in how we respond to family violence.

“This Government is committed to better addressing the high rate of family violence. The home should be a safe place for all women, children, and men and we want to do our best to protect victims from re-victimisation. 

“This review is just one part of government work toward a coordinated, integrated and efficient response to family violence and sexual violence and is a central part of the cross-government package announced last year by Prime Minister John Key.”

The public consultation opens today at https://consultations.justice.govt.nz/policy/family-violence-law and runs until 18 September.

We have moved on from the time when family violence was regarded as “only a domestic” but it is still a serious problem.

Violence is not acceptable anywhere. It is worse at home which ought to be a safe place.
New Zealand National Party's photo.


Public Interest Project launches

June 13, 2015

The New Zealand Public Interest Project is being launched in Christchurch today.

What does it do?

In even the fairest justice system, there are those who fall through the cracks. The New Zealand Public Interest Panel was founded on the belief that it is in the highest interest of the New Zealand public to investigate and appeal potential miscarriages of justice wherever possible.

In some countries, such as in England and Scotland, there are Criminal Cases Review Commissions whose role is to pursue these miscarriages and see that they are amended. While these organisations were created and funded by Acts of Parliament, no such Act exists here in New Zealand. 

We see this as an important absence in our country’s legal system, and so we decided to create one ourselves. 

The New Zealand Public Interest Project was founded by a volunteer team that includes prominent lawyers, academics, investigators and forensic scientists, all of whom are committed to acting in the interest of the public. Prior to the launch of NZPIP, members of this team have been privately involved in public interest cases and potential miscarriages of justice such as those of Teina Pora, Michael October, Mark Lundy and David Bain.

NZPIP is supported by the University of Canterbury School of Law, whose facilities help us to keep costs low. UC law students also play a key role in NZPIP, both as volunteers and working for course credit. Their involvement gives us the manpower to keep running on a day-to-day basis but also provides a great opportunity to develop

We take cases that we think are in the public good, whatever they may be. This includes appealing miscarriages of justice against individuals, but can also extend to civil matters where access to justice is inhibited or where there is a public interest which would not otherwise be  effectively served. This may consist of test cases or class actions where the rights of many citizens are affected, or cases where issues of considerable public interest are involved, such as human rights and freedom from discrimination, civil and political rights, or commercial or consumer matters where fundamental economic security are at risk including health, work, and accommodation.

The people behind NZPIP are:

* Dr Jarrod Gilbert, a sociologist and lecturer at the University of Canterbury and a coordinator of the Criminal Justice Degree. He is also the lead researcher at Independent Research Solutions.

* Tim Mckinnel, a Director of the investigation firm Zavést.

* Nigel Hampton  OBE QC.

* Dr Anna Sandiford, a forensic science consultant and director of The Forensic Group Ltd, a scientific consultancy based in New Zealand with extensive national and international networks of experts.

* Kerry Cook, a barrister and a member of the New Zealand Criminal Bar Association Committee.

* Glynn Rigby, the founding Director of investigation firm Zavést.

* Dr Duncan Webb, a expert in Professional Responsibility and Liability.

* Associate Professor Chris Gallavin, the Dean of Law and the Head of the School of Law at the University of Canterbury.


Restorative justice to cover country

September 4, 2013

Justice Minister Judith Collins has announced restorative justice services will be expanded and rolled out to all courts in the country.

An additional 2,400 restorative justice conferences – totalling 3,600 in 2014/15 – follow the Government’s $4.4 million investment in adult pre-sentence restorative justice as part of Budget 2013.

Ms Collins says investing in pre-sentence restorative justice will help deliver results, give victims a voice in the justice system and make victims strong.

“We know participation in restorative justice can result in a reduction in the reoffending rate of up to 20 per cent when compared to offenders who did not participate,” Ms Collins says.

“As well as delivering more services in existing centres, restorative justice will now be in courts where it was not previously or readily available, such as Alexandra, Queenstown, Gore, Taihape, Dannevirke, Taumarunui, Huntly, Morrinsville, Whakatane and Wairoa.

“Expanding restorative justice services across New Zealand will help the justice sector meet the Government’s Better Public Services target of further reducing reoffending by 25 per cent by 2017 – already reoffending is down by over 9 per cent.”

Ms Collins says restorative justice is also particularly effective at reducing victimisation and repeat victimisation. The 2011 Victim Satisfaction Survey showed 74 per cent of victims who attended a conference felt better.

The roll-out of new services will start from October 1 following decisions made by the Ministry of Justice as part of an open tender process.

Helping victims and reducing reoffending make the extra money spent on this initiative well worth while.


Urewera Operation Eight still before courts

March 26, 2012

Former Police Minister Annette King was interviewed about the Urewera trial on Q&A yesterday.

Attorney-General Chris Finlayson wasn’t impressed:

This morning Labour MP Annette King appeared on television and made allegations about the Operation Eight investigation which occurred when she was Police Minister.

There are three on-going matters in the trials arising out of that operation:

1. The defendants’ sentencing on the firearms charges where guilty verdicts were returned;

2. The possibility of the defendants appealing those guilty verdicts; and

3. The Crown Solicitor’s decision on whether or not to seek a re-trial on the charges where no verdict was returned.

It is extremely disappointing a former minister of the Police would make these comments on television when she knows full well the Court process must run its course without political interference.

Government ministers will be making absolutely no comment while these matters are unresolved.

It is inappropriate for anyone, but particularly for politicians, to comment publicly on matters that are before the Courts.

Quite.


Cleaning from the inside

January 14, 2012

Quote of the day:

 This kind of tattoo is best removed from the inside outwards. Macdoctor


First idiot racer’s car to be crushed

December 12, 2011

A Milton idiot will be the first to lose his car crushed under new legislation:

Eighteen-year-old Karn Clarrie Forrest, of Milton, appeared before Judge Stephen O’Driscoll in the Balclutha District Court, sitting in Gore, today on two driving charges.   

Forrest was charged with driving while disqualified and driving a vehicle with a sustained loss of traction on State Highway 1 north of Milton on September 29 . . .

Prosecutor Sergeant Penny Stratford noted as it was Forrest’s  third conviction for driving with a sustained loss of traction and under section 129A of the Sentencing Act – which  was amended two years ago – his car could be confiscated and  destroyed.   

The Land Transport (Enforcement Powers) Amendment Act and the  Sentencing (Vehicle Confiscation) Amendment Act – legislation specifically targeting street racers – came into force in  December 2009. . .

 Judith Collins got the nickname Crusher as the architect of this legislation and said she would look forward to pushing the button for the first crushing.

However, she has been promoted in the new Cabinet, so that pleasure might go to her successor, Anne Tolley.

 


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