Gordon Campbell | Parliament TV | Parliament Today | News Video | Crime | Employers | Housing | Immigration | Legal | Local Govt. | Maori | Welfare | Unions | Youth | Search


Pistorius and the lessons for New Zealand

Pistorius and the lessons for New Zealand

March 10, 2014

The process employed to try criminal cases in New Zealand should be continually discussed and debated, a leading University of Canterbury (UC) criminal law academic says.

The global interest in the Oscar Pistorius case illustrates a collective fascination with crime, both its commission and prosecution, Associate Professor Chris Gallavin, Head of UC’s Law School says.

``The case serves as an example of the operation of a system of justice different to our own and, from that perspective, the coverage is a good thing in that it creates interest and debate in our system’ Dr Gallavin says.

``A number of people have said how peculiar they think it is that there is no jury in the case. I usually reply by saying that our concept of law and fair trial is only one conception and not the only conception.

``Apart from the OJ Simpson case, the Pistorius trial is likely to be the most publicised case ever. There is a confluence of matters that make this prosecution so intriguing: from the peculiar nature of the killing itself, to the social standing of those involved, the incredible sporting achievements of the defendant right through to seemingly trivial things such as the attractiveness of both the defendant and the victim.

``Unlike New Zealand, the South African system of justice borrows heavily from a Roman or civil law system of justice. One of the main differences between the systems is the lack of a jury system in South Africa.

``Criminal cases, even serious ones, are heard by a judge alone or a panel of judges sometimes with the use of lay judges who hold no formal legal qualification.

``Under our common law system of justice, where juries are a more or less everyday feature of the criminal courts, we see jury service as an important social service as well as integral to justice being seen to be done.

``With professional judges there is the chance of a more clinical and perhaps legalistic approach to cases, but with juries it could be argued that there is a greater opportunity for a more human approach to criminal conviction.

``While it is difficult to draw comparisons, it is certainly the case that both systems have their strengths and weaknesses and people ought not to view a juryless system as providing all of the answers to the perceived problems of the criminal process in New Zealand.’’

The in-court media coverage maximises the intrigue of the Pistorius case. Although not in the position of allowing a carte blanche right to news media to film and record anything they like in court, New Zealand has come a long way from the role of the court artist whose depictions of in-court scenes were once the only pictorial record allowed to be taken of daily court events.

Professor Gallavin says the New Zealand Media in Courts Review Panel has just released a consultation paper as part of the Chief Justice’s review of in-court television coverage that could ultimately result in significant liberalisation of the rules around filming and recording court proceedings.

``I have no doubt that the Pistorius case will have further twists and turns that will keep the world transfixed on the media coverage, much to the delight, I am sure, of news media providers around the world.’’


© Scoop Media

Parliament Headlines | Politics Headlines | Regional Headlines


Minister of Finance: Plan Shows $100 Billion Infrastructure Projects

Finance Minister Bill English has today launched the Government’s Ten Year Capital Intentions Plan (CIP) which shows a pipeline of $100.9 billion worth of infrastructure projects over the next decade. More>>


Werewolf: Safe Landings Gordon Campbell on the safety challenge to the Wellington runway extension.

The safety-related legal challenge revolves around the size of the 90 metre long Runway End Safety Area (RESA) being proposed for the runway extension. More>>


Environment Commissioner: We Need To Work Together On Climate Change And Farming

“The debate around agricultural emissions and the ETS has been polarised for too long,” said the Commissioner. “But the ETS is not the only way forward – there are other things that can be done.” More>>


NZ Super Fund: Seeking To Put A Market Price On Climate Change

Oct. 19 (BusinessDesk) - The New Zealand Superannuation Fund says it will devise a set of rules to assess investment winners and losers under climate change, a strategy that could rule out fossil fuels or producers such as current portfolio member Exxon ... More>>


Rejuvenation: Parata Will Not Contest 2017 Election

Education Minister and National List MP Hekia Parata has today announced that she will not be contesting the next election. She advised the Prime Minister of her decision earlier this year. More>>

Prisons Grow: Government Approves Plans For Increased Prison Capacity

Despite significant progress in reducing crime the number of prisoners has increased faster than projected. This is because the proportion of offenders charged with serious crimes has risen, meaning more people are being remanded in custody and serving more of their sentences in prison. More>>


Gordon Campbell: On Plastic Bag Activism, And Street Harassment

Amusing to see the Act Party experiencing another outbreak of young fogey-ism. What has aroused the ire of Act Leader David Seymour this time is the introduction of a Greens private members bill to the ballot process, calling for a 15 cents levy on plastic bags to reduce pollution. More>>


Unclear Weapons: US Navy Ship Cleared To Visit NZ For Navy's 75th

United States Navy ship, the USS Sampson, has been given clearance to visit New Zealand next month by Prime Minister John Key... “The process for considering the visit by the USS Sampson is the same as that used for all ships attending the International Naval Review." More>>


Get More From Scoop



Search Scoop  
Powered by Vodafone
NZ independent news