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Middleton Sentencing: Statement Of Attorney-Genera

The following statement by the Attorney-General Margaret Wilson is in response to the high level of public attention and criticism directed at the judge hearing the case of Mark Middleton.

As New Zealand's Chief Law Officer the Attorney-General recommends the appointment of judges and defends the legal traditions on which New Zealand civil society is based.

"Independent judges and juries are at the very heart of the rule of law. They deserve our support and respect, even when we disagree with them. The job of any judge is to apply the law without fear or favour, however unpopular that decision might be. Judges are usually unable to respond to criticism. The burden of unfair criticism is one which they carry as a necessary part of the job.

"But it is never acceptable in a free society to attempt, outside the courtroom, to influence judges in the way they perform their duty. All New Zealanders should support the rule of law and the crucial role of judges and juries.

"Paul Dally's crimes were appalling. The whole nation was sickened and feels continued anger at the crimes and immense sympathy for the family.

'If we want to change the law, we do not achieve this by attacking judges or juries. We work to change the law through parliament. This government has responded to the need to ensure the community is safe through the proposed reforms to sentencing laws.

"The rule of law is not a mere abstraction or a platitude. It is what protects us all, every day, from those who would harm us."

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