– You can say what you like about our newest caped crusader, the roving prosecuteer Graeme McCready, fighting against injustice and upholding the Rule of Law, but lets not be too harsh.
Mr McCready doesn’t altogether fit the super hero image from popular culture, but I can picture him donning a cape in his cramped flat and parading before a full length mirror to show off a giant, probably red, “RoL” on its satin back – Rule of Law. He would smile and adjust the lycra tights beneath, drawing in his stomach.
You don’t want to go there, right?
Of course you don’t, but the caped McCready does have one point:the almost sacred concept that is the Rule of Law.It is for this that he went into battle where no-one else dared, even the New Zealand Police who can raid a fat man’s house with choppers and vests, squawking secured lines and weaponry, but who cannot issue a summons in what was always pretty well a slam-dunk case.
But we should not be surprised, because the Police have form in this territory as we know from the far more odious and significant matter of Helen Clark’s Labour Party, who illegally spent three quarters of a million dollars of parliamentary – that is, public – money on their election.Where was the caped McCready then?Let alone the police.
Now, high on the hog of his Banks’ success, the caped avenger has higher mortals in his sites, the PM no less, spraying summonses about like a cat on heat.It will doubtless end in tears, not to mention costs, but fueled by the Banksie success and media exposure the Crusader will continue his cleansing of the Body Politic until his “Beloved” drags him to the Klondike, or wherever she lives.
Reversal of Rights
But Rule of Law issues can easily be overlooked and the doyen of the criminal bar, even at 79 years of age, is unquestionably Peter Williams QC who railed this week against the recommendation from the Glenn Inquiry Report, curiously labeled the “Peoples Report”, which is a nice touch but for the implicit loafing and lurking evocation of Kim Jong-un.The Report’s recommendations regarding the Family Court overhaul seemed more than appropriate and it recounted the scandalous situation with this country’s domestic violence record.
But the Inquiry’s recommendation to reverse the onus of proof was a bridge too far for many lawyers, not the least of whom is Peter Williams who railed against the suggestion as yet another stab to the heart of the sacred rights provided to everyone under our legal system.He likened it to other travesties, such as the removal of the provocation defense, another knee-jerk response to a single, appalling crime for which the defendant was appropriately imprisoned notwithstanding his use of the defense, and the three strikes law.
Separation of Powers
The judiciary are also up in arms, to the extent that they can be in this country, over the Judicature Modernisation Bill, which is yet another of those streamlining, make-everything-more-efficient pieces of legislation that sounds fine and dandy until the devil in the detail emerges to– once again – impede some core concepts.
Their Honours don’t often become vocal on matters, superannuation issues aside, of course, but their causes for concern are both genuine and important.Their submissions outline some of the matters reported in this column some weeks ago, when Otago Law School Dean Mark Henaghan expressed his deep concern at aspects of the legislation.
It was, Professor Henaghan told me, as if we have been operating in an antiquated system where the Judges are incapable of properly dealing with either cases or case loads.He also pointed out the need to retain the separation of powers.Further, he expressed the completely understandable view that legislation designed for efficiency gains almost always results in the opposite.
So too the Judges, who are concerned about their independence with a Bill that has become something of a trophy-piece by the Minister of Justice and which is written in the context of a country without a written constitution but with a track record of rapid-fire, badly drafted law-making.Is the same thing happening?
How necessary is it to have Judges publicly accountable for the delivery of judgments?There is hardly a scandalous backlog here and whilst most reasonable people might consider judges should be as accountable as anyone, they are generally a conscientious lot – some DCJ’s aside – who are held to account by the current Chief Justice and executive judges.The possibility of having judicial administration overseen by the legislature clearly opens the door to any McCready-style judicial review actions and other politically-inspired action that is hardly helpful.
The arbitration list attracted considerable interest, to the point where I will next week unveil the country’s leading mediators.Mediation is a growing area of practice for many lawyers, the latest high profile effort being the Rena mediation, and it has created a varied range of issues ranging from employment and tenancy disputes to business and commercial matters at the higher end.
Justice Minister Judith Collins returned to her beloved Twitter, after her recent made-in-China ban, with some tweeted pics stalking the famous film couple, Angelina and Brad. We’ve not seen such a coupling since Liz and Richard and to be photographed in the their presence shows our Justice Minister is one of two things: either a selfless groupie who can’t resist the reflected glory that comes from sharing in the glow of celebrity, or a twit. You decide.