Sunday, May 31, 2009

Herald Wrong Again

Some faceless and pious pontificator writes in this morning's Herald, castigating police for failing to bring charges against the officer who mistakenly shot an innocent bystander on the North Western motorway.

Here's a sample of the nonsense:-

"With other homicides, the police establish who is responsible and lay charges. The courts decide whether or not the homicide was culpable - whether the person responsible is guilty of manslaughter or murder."

Weeeeell no. That's not actually how it goes.

The first thing the police do is establish whether there is a reasonable chance of a conviction - any conviction. THEN and ONLY THEN do they lay charges. The unknown Herald scribbler might not quite comprehend the possibility that, given all the circumstances, the Police consider a conviction, any conviction, unlikely in this particular case.

Does The Herald wants us to clog the already overloaded courts with prosecutions for every death which occurs? No matter what?

The answer probably is 'yes.' Then the Herald can print more anonymous opinion decrying the inadequacies of our justice system to deal with cases in a timely manner.

25 comments:

Rakaia George said...

Yeah but unfortunately for the police, this does smell of double standards. Hunters that accidentally shoot their mates invariably end up in court, it would seem fair that the police face the same kind of public scrutiny...

Perhaps what we need is an independent "Crown Prosecution Service" a la the UK so that these decisions are seen to be independent of the police?

Anonymous said...

Stinks alright - two guys were in court last week and found guilty after a guy copped a pellet in the eye while duck shooting.

But a stray 5.56x45mm NATO bullet from a police rifle attracts no sanction?

KG said...

There's a problem with what you've written here, Adolf. You said:
"The first thing the police do is establish whether there is a reasonable chance of a conviction - any conviction. THEN and ONLY THEN do they lay charges. The unknown Herald scribbler might not quite comprehend the possibility that, given all the circumstances, the Police consider a conviction, any conviction, unlikely in this particular case."
The fact that the police consider the possibility of a conviction "unlikely" when one of their own shoots an innocent person should be neither here nor there. They're an interested party and therefore their investigation of one of their own--and their effective acquittal of him--stinks of a conflict of interest.
You also say:
"Does The Herald wants us to clog the already overloaded courts with prosecutions for every death which occurs? No matter what?"
Certainly, every death of an innocent bystander at the hands of police should go to court--and unless you're suggesting that this is a very common occurrence, it would hardly "clog the courts".
Nobody wants to see a witch-hunt, but when those charged with keeping the public safe kill an innocent person it's vital that their actions be examined in an open court before a judge and jury.
The justice system belongs to us, the people and without transparency it becomes worthless.

Graeme Edgeler said...

Damn straight Adolf, the solution to any concerns this situation raises lies in greater oversight of police prosecutions, not in requiring people to commence illegal prosecutions.

Psycho Milt said...

I don't see any double standard here. You bet we expect people using firearms for personal entertainment to observe some basic safety rules like not shooting other people. We expect cops to observe firearms safety rules too, but the fact is their use of firearms on the job can quite legitimately involve shooting people - and in a shootout with an armed offender, there's a certain level of risk that we have to either accept, or stop asking cops to deal with armed offenders.

tired farmer said...

Well done KG. Whether by accident or not, you've just shot Adolf.

F E Smith said...

True, Graeme. Surely, as Rakaia George says, this makes the point yet again that we need a nationwide Crown Prosecution Service that has oversight over charging serious offences, rather than the now outdated and partisan Crown Solicitor network?

I have to say, however, that on the face of it the police could definitely argue they might get a convection on this one.

KG said...

PM, that's the most spectacularly missed point I've seen in a long time.

Psycho Milt said...

Really? Rakaia George and Anonymous are suggesting AOS members should be treated the same as hunters and duck shooters who shoot people - I'm pointing out why it's a false analogy. The question of whether there should be greater public oversight of Police investigating themselves is a separate issue.

what priorities...? said...

Hey, what's the big deal? It was only a black fullah; their lives are cheap and barely worthy of mention.

Now, if it had been a white trash slut who claimed she was raped by 3 cops 20-odd years ago, all hell would have broken loose. There would be a multi-million dollar investigation involving thousands of police man-hours, Phil Kitchin would spend 18 months 'investigating'; a prolonged media furore would erupt; a commission of inquiry into police conduct would begin; and a new police code of conduct would be introduced.

But hey, it was only a black fullah - nothing to see here, folks. Move along...

Anonymous said...

Perhaps what we need is an independent "Crown Prosecution Service" a la the UK so that these decisions are seen to be independent of the police
>
The problem isn't independence from the cops - it's independence from the Labour party. This problem is pretty bad on the cops, but it's endemic in the courts.

Frankly what we need is a police for that works in the interests of the productive members of society - criminal matters could be dealt with directly by such a force without need for judicial intervention or oversight (courts could return to the main role of commercial arbitration).

And yes, especially in South Auckland, 5.56x45mm rounds will go astray, and will occasionally kill even citizens (much more likely bludhers, of course). But this is surely a fair price to pay for a safer and more efficient society!

Psycho Milt said...

It was only a black fullah...

Now, if it had been a white trash slut...

Speaking of false analogies, there's a particularly stupid one for our readers to laugh at...

F E Smith said...

Anon at 2.49pm: The criminal law has always been the province of the Courts. I have no idea where you get your history from, but the police have only really been in existence as a formal body in the English speaking world since the early 1800s.

That means the Courts have been dealing with criminal matters for much, much longer. And the cops have never had a judicial role, ever.

Also, I don't know what "This problem is pretty bad on the cops, but it's endemic in the courts." means at all!

Andrei said...

It was only a black fullah...

Now, if it had been a white trash slut...

Speaking of false analogies, there's a particularly stupid one for our readers to laugh at...,
I'm not laughing Milt - I wonder if it had been a photogenic blond chick from Remuera who had copped a police bullet what the outcome would have been?

The cop who was purportedly chasing a drunk driver and injured that Asian boy got dealt too and I fail to see the difference here.

At the very least the facts on how this occurred need to be in the public domain and a court of law would seem to be the most appropriate forum under the principal of Justice must not only be done but seen to be done.

Adolf Fiinkensein said...

Andrei, the difference you fail to see is that in one case, the police and the crown law office considered a prosecution was justified and in another case they didn't. IN other words they felt there was enough evidence to justify a prosecution.

Are you suggesting the crown law office is bent?

Andrei said...

Are you suggesting the crown law office is bent?How can we possibly know given the facts behind this decision are not in the public domain?

But if I was a South Auckland Polynesian I certainly might be tempted interpret it that way.

Which is why justice must be seen to be done.

KG said...

If the police are able to kill an innocent member of the public and be answerable only to their own organisation for it, then they're no more than a taxpayer-funded gang in uniform.
Only independent oversight of their actions assures us that this isn't so. Otherwise, we rely on nothing more than faith in their integrity and competence. And there's plenty of evidence to suggest that would be foolish.

Adolf Fiinkensein said...

Keith, give it away. The Crown Law Office is not and never has been 'their organization.'

F E Smith said...

The Crown Law Office does not take part in decisions to charge. The body that the Police would have most likely have consulted would be the office of the Crown Solicitor for Auckland. The Crown Solicitor for Auckland is Simon Moore SC, a partner in the firm of Meredith Connell. Crown Law helps to co-ordinate the Crown Solicitor's network, but in the long run each Crown Solicitor is an independent, private law firm. Often this is referred to by Police as 'Crown Law' when what they mean is 'the Crown'.

Funnily enough, the major client of the Crown Solicitor's office is the New Zealand Police.

F E Smith said...

"The Crown Law Office is not and never has been 'their organization."

Of course it is. It defends the Police, the Courts and the Crown in the Appellate jurisdictions of this country. It would be naive to suggest they are independent of the Government and Police. After all, the ok'd the Electoral Finance Act.

Psycho Milt said...

I wonder if it had been a photogenic blond chick from Remuera who had copped a police bullet what the outcome would have been?

Yes, but that's a fair analogy, unlike What Priorities' deranged-loony false analogy.

I don't see how the outcome might have been different - unless there was some evidence of criminal negligence that didn't make it into the media, there wasn't ever likely to be a prosecution. A photogenic Remuera girl's family would be much better placed to kick up a stink about it, but that's really extraneous to the issue.

KG said...

Adolf, you used the phrase "the Police consider a conviction, any conviction, unlikely in this particular case", not me.

And the Crown Law Office could only rely on the information given them from the investigation--of the police investigating the police. So to suggest the CLO is somehow a completely separate, independent body which will make a judgement about whether to prosecute regardless of the input from the police is absurd.
Given the politicisation of the force at the highest levels only a fool would trust the police (and the CLO, come to that).
If the police acted properly and lawfully, then a court case would confirm that.
Nothing else will.

Anonymous said...

Christ you fucks sound like a bunch of whingey lefty terrorists (or whingy left liberatarians: same thing really but with more money and less guts).

NZ has a defactor armed police force. Sometimes they shoot the wrong people. Big deal. Get used to it.

Basically do you want a police FORCE that will go after and shoot crims when necessary, or a bunch of uniformed social workers? The problem with both NZ cops & courts remains leftism (and its leftism even more in courts than in the cops). Frankly it's time we got the balance right: if that means a few more people in the wrong place at the wrong time copping a bullet or tasing or a bashing from a PR 24 then so be it.

KG said...

If the cops shot an anonymous commenter or two I'd buy 'em a beer.

Adolf Fiinkensein said...

I'd buy them some more ammunition.