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Try for guilt or innocence, not police procedure

Try for guilt or innocence, not police procedure

Stephen Franks
Thursday, 30 June 2005
Press Releases - Crime & Justice

Justice Minister Phil Goff should say now what he will do to get judges to stay focussed on determining guilt or innocence, instead of using their powers to tell us what they think of police procedures, ACT Justice Spokesman Stephen Franks said today.

“ACT opposes judicial empire building using vague human rights concepts. That is why we demanded legislation to roll back the nutty decisions awarding money to prisoners for so-called mistreatment.

“If the police have breached procedural rules, they should be disciplined. But using questioning defects to collapse a trial punishes the community, not the police. It is wrong that the Government has encouraged judges to invent such law. It means they now feel it is OK to expose the community to an alleged killer to give point to their feelings about the right to legal advice.

“Of course the judge must be free to criticise police procedure, and to throw out unsafe evidence, but here it appears the whole trial was collapsed to make her point.

“Mr Goff’s new Evidence Bill in clause 29 actually encourages judges to throw their weight around in this way. Instead of telling judges to remember that the purpose of the trial is to determine the accused’s guilt or innocence on the charge, it tells them they can exclude “improperly obtained” evidence, no matter how true or important it might be “having regard to the importance of any right breached by the impropriety and the seriousness of the intrusion on it”, Mr Franks said.


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