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Convicting And Acquitting Is Not A Game

Convicting And Acquitting Is Not A Game

Friday 23 Jul 2004

Stephen Franks Press Releases -- Crime & Justice

ACT New Zealand Justice Spokesman Stephen Franks today called on Justice Minister Phil Goff to add into his double jeopardy reform a closure of the technical loophole that acquitted a young thug on a brutal murder charge.

"I will put up the amendment if Mr Goff doesn't. This acquittal right is like the famous US Miranda defence, based on law the judges have been developing without Parliamentary debate. It's time for Parliament to reverse it," Mr Franks said.

"ACT will stop courts treating trials as a game with points for technical fouls. The purpose of trials is justice. There is no justice in declaring an own goal against the Crown when a brute walks free. The Crown acts on behalf of victims who have no choice in who acts for them. The judges should not have to hurt the victim all over again just because there's a technical fault by the agent they never chose.

"A failure to give a warning should be a matter for discipline of the police, not a re-shredding of the victims. An ACT justice minister would move quickly to end this kind of nonsense.

"One of my reasons for coming to Parliament was to recapture justice from lawyers who think it's their game. In my checklist of reforms I hoped National would commit to, earlier this month, I included:

`Swiftly Convict the Guilty and Acquit the Innocent: It's Not a Game': cut legalistic defences back to what is needed to avoid unreliable convictions. For example, end the so-called right to silence so the judge and jury are free to draw conclusions from an accused's failure to face cross-examination.'

"National Leader Dr Don Brash did not deal with this problem. ACT will," Mr Franks said.


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