Monday, April 18, 2005

Sacrificing justice to expediancy

When the government put forward its Criminal Procedure Bill, I objected to the provisions allowing majority verdicts and retrials when the police fail to do their job. But it seems I missed something: Phil Goff wants to axe the right to a jury trial in cases where defendants have been suspected of jury tampering. Instead, these cases would be heard by a judge sitting alone.

This is simply appalling; the right to trial by jury is absolutely fundamental, and exists to ensure that the facts are properly examined and that people are not convicted as a result of one person's prejudices. The proper course of action where jury tampering is suspected is to protect the jury while bringing the full weight of the law to bear on those attempting to subvert the system. But the government is unwilling to do this - it is not "cost-effective", and would involve the police having to do work. Instead, it's far easier simply to stack the legal deck, rather than do the hard work required to pursue justice.

Everyone deserves a fair trial - even the "crims" and gang-members this bill is targetted at. Yes, this requires work - but that is what makes it a justice system rather than one of arbitrary punishment. We should ensure that the government does that work, rather than taking the easy way out and sacrificing justice to expediancy.