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Law Commission Report Raises Questions

The Law Commission report on 'Juries in Criminal Trials' raises serious issues about the way criminal trials are conducted in New Zealand, National's Justice spokesperson Dr Wayne Mapp said today.

"While many New Zealanders will welcome the move to majority 11:1 verdicts, it seems surprising that a jury would not be required to state that it was a majority verdict.

"There is also a real risk that the right to a jury trial is reduced. The Crown would be able to apply for a judge alone trial, even if the defendant has chosen trial by jury. The right of trial by jury is deeply held and should not be given away lightly.

"The Law Commission missed an opportunity to consider broader issues relating to juries. For instance, it was not considered whether juries should be able to recommend the non-parole period for murder sentences, as is the case in Canada.

"Given public concern about sentencing expressed in the Withers' referendum, this is a matter that the Law Commission should have examined.

"Mr Goff has said legislation will be introduced in 2002, a year from now. There seems to be a consistent pattern with Mr Goff. He is very good at delivery of rhetoric but slow on action," Dr Mapp said.


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