Former ACT MP Stephen Franks makes some excellent points in his latest “Unfranked”.
“An Auckland court withheld from the jury a videotape said to show Noel Rogers confessing to killing Katherine Sheffield. He was acquitted last week.
TVNZ wants to show us the video so we can judge for ourselves what was excluded from our so-called “open courts”. Rogers objects. In round one this week the court supports him, worried that Rogers’ privacy would be breached, and considering the Police conduct to be”improper”.
This is “hero judging”. TVNZ should remind the appeal judges of a simple truth. Acquittal just means not proven beyond reasonable doubt. It does not force the rest of us to accept the accused’s innocence. A victim can win a private lawsuit based on exactly the same evidence as failed in the criminal acquittal case, reassessed on the civil “balance of probabilities” standard. Nicole Simpson’s family succeeded against O J Simpson on that basis.
Acquittal merely means that the State’s powers of punishment cannot be used against the person acquitted. Victims and relatives and employers and news agencies must remain free to make up their own minds, and free speech helps ensure we have the information on which to exercise our freedom of thought.
An acquitted person can use defamation law for protection from baseless accusations.
Thankfully TVNZ has the resolve and the resources to fight on in this case….”
Stephen Franks is right. The courts are only one of society’s sanctions against evildoing. People must be able to judge and act accordingly to individuals, regardless of a court verdict.
A good example of this flawed legal logic is the idea that once a criminal has served his time (whether, thief, murderer or paedophile) “society” should automatically forgive all and welcome the offender back into its bosom.
Forgiveness and judgement are individual acts. No court can dictate them.