Friday, April 07, 2006

The Shitwind Blows

There's been a bit of heat generated from the earlier posting of the Louise Nicholas leaflet because it is arguably 'illegal' and could jeopardise the future possibility of a 'fair' trial for already convicted police rapists.

Indeed, a few gentlemen have emailed me with suppressed information explaining just why that image shouldn't be posted and that I am breaking the law. Of course they themselves broke the law by emailing me this information. One man even suggested I was as bad as the rapists themselves by publically revealing this information.

I think this comment from another blog shows the line in the sand for me on the issue of suppression orders and 'respect' for the law.

"The morality of such an order is irrelevant, it is the legality that counts."

I understand that point of view, in fact society would fall apart if immoral people had no fear of the law, but to me it seems like a robotic non-human way of thinking.
I would reverse that statement - morality is what counts - it is a far better guide to life than statute books for decent human beings.

Imagine being a homosexual man prior to 1984 -
"Well, the law states that homosexuality is illegal, so therefore, I will stop being gay because it's the law!"

On the few occasions my morality conflicts with the law a bit of risk/cost/benefit analysis begins, for instance smoking cannabis, it is illegal under the law, but to me it is not immoral, and as I have white skin the biggest punishment I would realistically face under NZ's legal system is police diversion. So I happily smoke cannabis.

However in this case of name suppression of the convicted rapists, the 'unintended consequences' could be far greater than a theoretical legal punishment I could suffer,

The spin is that these name suppression 'violations' on the internet and leaflets handed out on the street could cause the judiciary to declare the next rape 'show trial' a mistrial before it has even begun, and I have been told this 'will let the rapists get away with it' - er, newsflash, Clint Rickards already has.

Remember these 'show trials' came from the police decision to derail a potentially devastating and far-reaching Commission of Inquiry into Police Conduct by launching "investigations" into a few select historic rape cases that they had attempted to sweep under the carpet for nearly 2 decades.

In the unlikely event a mistrial was declared due to the publication of known facts there would be again be further 'unintended consequences' - mass public outrage even more intense then it is presently which in turn would force the Government to renew and strengthen the Commission of Inquiry into Police Conduct over the cover-ups of these historical rape allegations which far outnumber those currently awaiting trial. Focusing not only on the rapists but on those who have helped protect the rapists by destroying and "losing" evidence, intimidating victims and forging documents.

Of course, to get an inquiry into the police cover-up of her own case is why Louise Nicholas went public with her story in the first place.

This is a risk involved in handing out those leaflets, I believe the right for the public at large to know about what is happening in their legal system outweighs the tiny risk of a mistrial.
Morally, it's the right thing to do.

Legalities aside, I do find it apt that the same persons willing to publish highly offensive and derogatory pictures of religious figures engaged in sexual acts purely for the purpose of causing offence (what I would call a immoral act however not against 'the law') are the same persons condemning others for publishing suppressed and important facts about the identities of convicted rapists.

What a sad world we live in, where legal argument trumps morality at every turn.


Anonymous said...

Is one allowed to sue a person for a criminal act in NZ as you can in the UK and US? (Famously, the family of Nicole Brown won USD33mln from OJ Simpson, though he has never paid up).

My reading of the ACC law is that you can (for exemplary rather than compensatory damages), but there may be some other provision that stops you. The rules on evidence and verdicts are different in civil cases, I think. (I'm not a lawyer or I'd know this stuff.) I'm sure there'd be lots of contributions to the legal costs.

Losing a civil case might not send Rickards to jail, but he'd lose his house and I'd assume not be able to work as a cop again (I notice that there has been no word from the police force on his reinstatement - or is he still awaiting trial for *another* rape?)

t selwyn said...

Well said. If there is another trial in the wings jurors who have heard rumours/viewed leaflets etc. will be excused.

Anonymous said...

It's all very strange, if you accept the premise that the public knowledge of Schollum and Shipton's rape convictions could prevent them from getting a fair trial in the future then wouldn't the fact that Schollum and Shipton have had their faces all over the media during the Nicholas rape trial also prejudice a future jury?

llew said...

I think they'd have name suppression in any future trial(s) & theoretically, we wouldn't know them. Although unless the jurors had been on Mars...

The only reason they didn't have name suppression this time (so I'm led to understand) is because Louise Nicholas refused name suppression herself.

BTW - you in jail yet Nick?

llew said...

But I think the relevant term in this case (until we hear otherwise I guess) is impending "appeal".

To be honest, I don't see how this can't have been compromised.

I think that certain factions may have to take solace in the thought that these guys' reputations & prospects have been pretty much ruined forever now.

But it might rule out justice for anyone else involved in similar events.

Nick Eynon said...

No, haven't been locked up, yet. According to Dave@Big News, the police are not going to do anything about the thousands of possible suppression violations.

So like cannabis law in Holland it's a law on the books that is not policed, basically authorites are saying that supression orders do not apply to the internet, only to "proper" media outlets.

Or maybe they'll just use it rarely and randomly like sedition and only police it when instructed from up high.