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Judges Getting it Right on Open Justice

Judges Getting it Right on Open Justice

Wednesday 15th Nov 2000 Stephen Franks Media Release -- Justice

Justice Robertson got it right in refusing name suppression to an offender who applied for police diversion. “The judges are reaffirming common sense and the principle of open public justice and getting tougher on crime, while the Government just prattles about its sentencing review” says ACT Justice Spokesman, Stephen Franks.

“We’ve been through 30 years of increasing confusion as ‘we know best’ liberals have driven secrecy into the Courts. Open justice was one of the proudest parts of our heritage. And recently the Court of Appeal has started to reclaim it. The New Zealand Herald stood up for ordinary New Zealanders in appealing the billionaire name suppression case. This latest case, reported in the media today, continues the trend.

“Officials worried about the ‘needs’ of the criminal will fight this. They don’t want to send the message that crime doesn’t pay. They believe in ‘programmes’ – counselling and therapy – instead of costs to the offender. They don’t accept that the first deterrent to crime should be concern about your reputation and how shame will affect your family. ACT says personal responsibility must go together with freedom.

“These officials are in charge of the Government’s Sentencing Review Project. Justice Robertson’s judgement will be a political problem, because the Minister of Justice wants “clean slate” laws. They would prohibit telling even a previously reported truth about someone’s past.

“The Minister of Justice is good at implying that weak judges give criminals the view that the law doesn’t mean what it says. Some do. But the judges are not to blame in this. The judges did not create name suppression laws. The judges did not pass the Privacy Act. It is not the judges who let criminals off more than half of their sentences, on parole.

“But the officials will wring their hands. They should get out of the way. Let the age old sanction of shame work again even for people correctly sent to diversion because there is little point in a formal sentence.

“It is nearly a year since the Withers Referendum got over 90% support for a focus on victims and punishment that meant something. The Government’s sentencing review has produced nothing in all this time. Drafting convincing excuses will get harder for them, not easier. People are realising who is really to blame for spurious sentencing,” said Stephen Franks.


For more information visit ACT online at or contact the ACT Parliamentary Office at

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