Thursday, November 13, 2008

"A fit and proper person"

The New Zealand Law Society has decided that Clint Rickards is a "fit and proper person" to practice law. I can think of no better demonstration of the utter moral bankruptcy of the legal profession. While Rickards was acquitted of repeatedly raping and victimising Louise Nicholas and another woman, the behaviour he admitted in the courtroom - manipulating and exploiting vulnerable teenagers for his own sexual gratification - was more than bad enough to cast doubt on his character. His outburst afterwards - supporting his convicted mates and attacking the officers who had sought to investigate the credible allegations against him - was even worse. This is not a person who should be considered "of good character" to clean a sewer, and the Law Society's approval really makes you wonder if they'd refuse a certificate to anyone, ever.

As Louise Nicholas pointed out in her submission, the real worry is that Rickards will end up across the courtroom from a victim in a rape case. Such cases are difficult enough to successfully prosecute at the best of times, without the added trauma of having to be quizzed by a man like Rickards thrown in, and the threat of this could easily lead to cases collapsing - a further disaster for justice. If Rickards had applied to be a doctor, the medical profession could have limited his ability to practice, forbidding him to work in certain areas or requiring him to work only under supervision. Maybe the Law Society should be considering similar arrangements for people like Rickards.