In This Edition: Right To Self-Representation - NZ Involvement In Iraq - Mother Or Father - To Be Or Not To Be!
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Right To Self-Representation
Justice Hammond's recent comment in the Burrett case implied that people's inability to represent themselves in court is an unnecessary burden on the taxpayer - "the cost to the public must be truly horrendous" (Weekend Dominion Post, 14-15 June).
Where are the statistics showing that this is in fact true? One single court case? And by the way, the convicted was a lawyer. With the amount of discretion a judge has, particularly with regard to relevance, it is surprising that Justice Hammond would complain, as he is ultimately in control of the courtroom.
We must not forget that the right to represent oneself is one of the most fundamental democratic principles there is, confirmed not only in our voting rights but also in the Bill of Rights Act 1990.
You have a right to represent yourself in law and nobody should be forced to take an agent (unless assessed incapable by an independent psychiatrist). Saying that, it is always helpful to have someone who knows the rules, but the decision to take on the services of that person must be voluntary.
Our present free-market society is founded on the making of voluntary choices – and it is through the freedom of choice that our society will prosper. We would expect our judiciary to reflect it.
Firstly, laws are written for us and we should be able to make sense of them, what would otherwise be the point of them?
Secondly, the judges governing the legal process have been given their jobs because they are good at making decisions in complex matters and we also expect them to be able to control the performance of the parties in a court case, even if one of them has not had legal training.
As a democratic culture we celebrate individual freedom. Imposing a restriction on that freedom for the sake of a collective better must be done in the least restrictive way possible. Removing the right to self-representation for all New Zealanders because some (one we know of) cases may be more difficult to handle seems excessive.
Just as we have one vote for our government, we have a right to have our voice - our own voice - heard in the courtroom. Let's face it, most of us would rather have someone who knows what s/he is doing take care of business than have to stand in front of all those people and talk about ourselves. The point is that decision is voluntary.
Student, Victoria University Law Faculty
NZ Involvement In Iraq
I am disappointed with Helen's about turn on Iraq.
We can play no constructive role while Iraq is under occupation. The USA is still holding prisoners of war, perpetrating humanitarian atrocities, and exploiting Iraq for commercial gain.
The USA/British command will, of course welcome any NZ task force as proof that the occupation is legitimate.
If we had integrity, we would stay out of Iraq. We should not assist the oppressors, we should assist the oppressed.
Are we doing the about turn for our own gain?
Kris van der Merwe
Mother Or Father - To Be Or Not To Be!
Women who want to be men!
Men who want to be women!
Women whose preference for a sexual partner is another woman! Men whose preference for a sexual partner is another man!
All seemingly desirous of the one thing that is a biological impossibility in the type of relationship they have entered into without enlisting the aid of the very people they spawn, those of the opposite sex.
What a dilemma.
And when the deed is finally done and a child enters the equation, the politically correct lobby's answer to the issue of lesbians becoming socially acceptable parents is to name one of the partners "father".
Under the law changes being promulgated is it also proposed that, in the case of male same-sex relationships, one of the partners be named "mother".
All this to ostensibly recognise the reality of children's lives and diversity of the families who care for them.
Were it not for politically correct stupidity, the children would not have been placed in this position in the first place.