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Judicial Activists Strike Again

Judicial Activists Strike Again

ACT New Zealand Justice Spokesman Stephen Franks today pointed out that cash awards to disgruntled criminals were the direct result of judicial activism not corrected by National or Labour when they had every chance to do so.

"Justice Minister Phil Goff springs into foaming promises of a law change when he has just helped Corrections Minister Paul Swain push through a Corrections Act that makes them even more likely," Mr Franks said.

"My highly respected old firm warned that it would give prisoners even more opportunities to sue.

"For the ACT Party, I moved amendments to ensure prisoners could not raise offensive `human rights' arguments, to avoid precisely the kind of outcome Mr Goff now says he does not want. Labour voted them down. These amendments would have eliminated a string of vague new obligations in Section 6 of the Corrections Act.

"The law has extensive provisions to protect prisoners through visiting justices, and specified appeal rights. Monetary awards in gold-digging lawsuits are not provided for. Damages for so-called breaches of the Bill of Rights Act were an invention of activist judges in `Baigents' case.

"Though many lawyers - including prominent academics - drew attention to the dangers in this kind of activism, no Justice Minister in National or Labour chose to pass law to confine the Bill of Rights Act back within the bounds that Parliament intended.

"It is simple hypocrisy for Mr Goff to now cover his political tail by promising swift new law when he wouldn't do anything in the same area only three months ago," Mr Franks said.

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