Former ACT Justice spokesman, Stephen Franks is one no bullshit lawyer.
He’s been blogging more regularly lately here
On Labour’s heinous proceeds of crime bill (Pusillanimous means cowardly);
March 21st, 2007 Good to hear the Green and Maori Parties’ spirited defence of that ancient and vital principle. They oppose the bill to allow confiscation on suspicion of criminal connections. It would allow it without conviction, or even when a conviction is overturned.
Shame on the pusillanimous parties that supported it, especially NZ First and National. They should expose disgraceful smokescreen bills like these as Labour’s desperate attempt to look tough on crime.
On the Kathie Rifle prosecution;
March 21st, 2007 Does anyone else hear the echo of Stalin’s show trials in Kathie Rifle’s guilty plea on Monday? Desperately remorseful, she and her husband Jack publicly accepted that the police had to lay careless driving charges against her. The Rifles just wanted to get the process over. The pain won’t end for them.
The world has never understood why so many of Stalin’s victims went to their deaths publicly apologising for crimes they had never committed. I think we are seeing the mechanism here.
When the entire establishment backs a justice system has been perverted beyond recognition its victims lose confidence in their own judgment. They assume that because they are out of step they deserve the pain inflicted on them. Some even thanked Stalin for his wisdom in ignoring their inability to remember what they had done wrong.
Six months ago three of Mrs Rifle’s children were killed and she was seriously injured when her car landed upside down in a culvert. The cause of the accident is not known. Probably she fell asleep.
What’s the purpose of charging her? What conceivable good can charges do in such circumstances? What court punishment could mean a thing beside her current suffering?. What victim is avenged by these stupid charges? What deterrence can it possibly achieve, greater than the deterrence of losing your loved children, your own health and your car? What conduct is it supposed to denounce and correct – she does not even know what happened. No one does.
Who is protected by this disgraceful police practice of criminalising people with no evil intent? Police do not have the resources even to answer calls for help from victims of deliberate wickedness! Yet they pour thousands of man hours into accidents that no one intends.
Our criminal law has travelled far in the last four decades. It was focussed on the guilty mind, on conscious wrongdoing. Not any longer.
Now the Police would rather force a 35 year old mother, described by the judge as a decent person who had led a blameless life, to weep her guilt in front of a judge, to spend their money on lawyers and then to reassure the Police that they were doing them no wrong.
On the Blair government’s approach to crime and on the legitimacy of retaliation;
March 21st, 2007 Britain now has 34 murderers on whole of life sentences. They will die in prison. Their Court of Appeal just increased a sentence from 30 years to 50. Lord Falconer responded to the top judge’s complaint that “the prisons will be full of geriatrics”, with the hope that others, like Ian Brady who had not got whole of life sentences, would also never be let out. Best of all, he gave a robust justification for retribution as a legitimate purpose of punishment.
In 6 years of Parliament I never heard another NZ politician risk a defence of retribution. And more sad still, all the victims I’ve met through Sensible Sentencing have felt obliged to offer the PC mantra that they are not looking for retribution. The authorised piety perverts the honest need to see punishment into “all I want is to ensure that this does not happen to anybody else”.
Sympathetic questioning reveals the contortions required to believe and say that. You’ll find of course they want the criminal to pay the proper price. I know of no culture that did not base justice on reciprocity. Nearly all our victims feel the the offender should suffer something. Securing that helps them feel the world is not entirely unbalanced. In short our stifling official cant forces the victims of even our worst crimes to feel ashamed of their natural and laudable desire to retaliate.