Thursday, January 31, 2008

Why do NZ juries keep letting rapists go free?

Don't think I can write much of a post to go with this headline without laying us open to all kinds of litigeous unpleasantness, but seriously - why do NZ juries find it so hard to actually convict a rapist for raping someone? Do we just not care, or what?

When you look at high-profile murder cases, eg Scott Watson, we seem happy to convict on balance of probabilities. Hardly proved beyond reasonable doubt, but not really likely to be anyone else, so buggered if you're going to just let him walk. And yet, with rape cases we seem to be quite happy to just let the scumbag walk. What is it with us?

19 comments:

Gooner said...

Milt, you beat me to it, but I was going to play, and still will play, contrarian.

I sat through some of the trial. Some of the evidence was awful. But the overriding thing that stuck in my mind was that how would you ever convict Tea Ropati with character witnesses like The Mad Butcher, Dean Lonergan and Stacey Jones all saying he was the world's nicest guy and couldn't squash a flea, let alone commit sodomy. I mean we are not talking some middle class no-name from Otahuhu, we are talking The Mad Butcher QSM and Stacey Jones!!!

After the first couple of days I was siding with guilty, then after the medical evidence I wasn't sure. And after the complainant's evidence I was even less sure.

The 12 decisions of not guilty speaks volumes Milt, sorry mate, but there is no justification for your headline.

But there is this though: Peter Ropati and tea's supporters can rack off with their cries of 'rough justice' and 'case absolute rubbish'. There was certainly a case there worthy of a jury trial and the system gave the correct result.

As it does 99.999998% of the time.

Psycho Milt said...

A jury's decision is, by definition, correct, of course. But that doesn't bar us from holding our own personal opinion on the defendant's guilt or innocence. My own personal opinion is that this piece of shit just got away with rape.

Re the supporters, is it usual for a judge to sit and let that kind of bullshit go on in his courtroom? I would have put that mofo in a cell.

JC said...

"but seriously - why do NZ juries find it so hard to actually convict a rapist for raping someone? Do we just not care, or what?"

Because the evidence from NZ and the US shows that somewhere between 20-50% of all rape complaints are false. I can dig out the cites if you want.

Because the case came shortly after the anti-smacking legislation, and contrary to Bradford and other accusations, no one believes that the approximately 80% of the population that opposed it are child "beaters" and abusers, or that 1 in four fathers sexually abuse their children, or that 80% of women have been sexually abused.

And hanging over every sexual accusation in NZ for the past decade or so is the unresolved case of Peter Ellis. The damage that case has done to the credibility of the courts on sexual matters remains immense.. how could it not?

I'd suggest that the default position of most adults in this country is that every rape complaint is dubious because of the appalling crap we've been fed on matters sexual, the poor quality of many of the complainants, the situations they've got themselves into by ignoring time honoured rules, and the inherent contradictions of a sexualised society that implements laws and morals from another era.

And all that's before we add in the differing effects of drink and drugs in men and women.

JC

Psycho Milt said...

Well, I guess that does answer my question, if at the same time confirming my worst fears.

Because the evidence from NZ and the US shows that somewhere between 20-50% of all rape complaints are false. I can dig out the cites if you want.

Leaving aside for the moment the astounding news that social scientists have discovered a way to tell which rape complaints are false, in what sense could this statistic be relevant to any individual rape trial?

I don't doubt for a moment your view that juries judge the complainant ahead of the defendant, based on "...the situations they've got themselves into by ignoring time honoured rules...", but I suspect we differ in the matter of whether that disgusts us or not.

dad4justice said...

Interesting you should mention conviction on the balance of probabilities psycho.
I have endured 205 court hearings since 2001 because a bias judge thought bullshit hearsay evidence was enough to warrant the destruction of my family. Oh well, a couple million well spent on a good dad. False allegations are good fun,you should try them sometime.

I have sat through many rape trials as a court McKenzie friend, and I can assure you many men are shafted on whimsical evidence presented by the crown.

Police are very quick to act on allegations only after the complainant has filled the money tree ACC form and had a few sessions with a vindictive man hating women counselor.

Why did this women wait so long before she went to keystone cops?

Planning a lie takes careful consideration and planning.ACC counselors are very good at assisting.

JC said...

PM,

A large number of rape cases come down to the believability of the people involved, and their characters.

In that situation the jurors are going to make their choices based on a range of personal perceptions, some of which I've given here. What else are they going to use?

JC

Anonymous said...

That's exactly right jc, and don't underestimate the influence of two factors: firstly the peer pressure (acute when all the other jurors have decided, it's late at night and everyone is facing an overnight stay in a motel away from their families and work commitments) and secondly the unspoken pressure from the justice system to return the "correct" verdict, particularly after a long trial.

I think incorrect verdicts (both ways) may happen more than people think, because when people go into the lock-down, the whole atmosphere changes. You have to be there to experience it, it's one of those things.

Anonymous said...

Further to my last point and just to clarify, the justice system really does bend over backwards to ensure it's objective, I don't think they can design a better system to establish objectivity. However, especially in long (more than 1-2 days) cases, there is a tendency to imagine that they would not have expended such energy unless it really happened the way it was alleged. And that's a subconcious issue that plays on a juror's own thoughts.

FAIRFACTS MEDIA said...

In the UK, the law has been changed, scarpping a 6 year limit for compensation claims.
It follows a case known as the lottery rapist.
Shortly after serving time, the offender won many millions on the UK lottery.
The victim, whom I think is 75, thought she deserved a share as compensation.

http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/uk/article3279533.ece

Gooner said...

D4J, the victim didn't wait five weeks to go to the police as Gotlieb said on TV. The police turned up at her house as soon as she arrived home in the early morning. She was examined immediately and spoken to briefly. It wasn't until five weeks later that she made a formal compliant/statement. She had no memory of the night's events and hoped they would return as time passed.

Gooner said...

Oh yeah and Milt, I had the same view as yours until I sat through the evidence. I called him a 'rapist' for a few days but it's simply not the case now I don't think after all the evidence.

One thing though, the jury took 12 hours to decide; that's quite a long time so it shows their was some indecision.

John Tertullian and Contra Celsum said...

Whatever happened to the canon that guilt can only be imputed when the evidence is "beyond reasonable doubt." Granted that the burden of proof under such a standard means that some, if not many, will be acquitted when actually guilty. But that is a relatively small price to pay insofar as the substitute standard--"balance of probabilities"--inevitably leads to horrendous miscarriages of justice. This has happened many times in NZ as we know. The upshot is a widespread public cynicism towards the police and the justice system and the law itself. Increasing lawlessness throughout the community is the irrevocable result.

Spam said...

Leaving aside for the moment the astounding news that social scientists have discovered a way to tell which rape complaints are false, in what sense could this statistic be relevant to any individual rape trial?

Social scientists? No. I have heard similar figures being quoted by a rape detective in NZ.

It may be that this statistic comes from the number of rape charges that are made, then later withdrawn.

A rape case that is withdrawn does not necessarily mean that a rape did not happen however; it may be that the claiment did not want to go through with the pain of talking about it at trial. However, the aforementioned detective did suggest that a large number of the withdrawn rape charges were because the "victim" had had a different definition of "rape" to the legal one (one case I know of, a guy has sex with his ex-girlfriend. She thinks they are reconciling, he has a new girlfriend. When he leaves afterwards, she calls the police because she claims she would not have consented had she known that he was not reconciliatory). Case thrown-out before it gets to trial.

And how is the statistic applicable to an individual rape trial? Simply that just because it gets to court does not mean that a rape really happened (I'm not arguing that 40-50% of those that get to court are 'not rapes' though).

Finally, not included in the 40-50% figure, I suspect that there are a lot of real rapes that don't even get reported.

George said...

One guess PM is that juries sit through the evidence, observe the complainant and the accused and then go make a collective judgement.

The rest of us get our info from newspapers, hearsay, or television. I am skeptical of all three. Trust in the system is paramount, and that trust is becoming harder to place.

bubbsie said...

He didnt rape her because The Mad Butcher was a character witness... oh give me a f***g break !

Was Butcher in the bar with them or down at Victoria Park when he sodomised her.

This guy is an ANIMAL and should have done down..

Mark said...

I think the whole case came down to consent.

The fact the compliant can't remember much doesn't help the case.

His is probably guilty, but not beyound a reasonable doubt which I think why the jury found him not guilty.

KG said...

"Why do NZ juries keep letting rapists go free?"
Because some cases aren't proved beyond reasonable doubt?
In which case, if the accused "goes free" then he's not a rapist. Whether you personally like the guy or not is irrelevant.

Psycho Milt said...

Perhaps you missed this earlier, KG:

A jury's decision is, by definition, correct, of course. But that doesn't bar us from holding our own personal opinion on the defendant's guilt or innocence. My own personal opinion is that this piece of shit just got away with rape.

Anonymous said...

I accept the Jury's Verdict whether I agree with it or not. I agree with GOONER that the opinion of men of such undeniably high character as the Butcher and Jones would carry considerable weight..Maybe the Jury thought that in today's society a drugged drunk woman would consent to oral sex,rough roots and buggery. She was how-ever brutalised severely in a non sexual manner as well.Perhaps if the Police had also laid a charge of assault causing grievous bodily harm the Jury may have convicted, consent no longer being an issue. That is not to be critical of the Police who probably thought they had a sound case on the sexual charges.