Law Reform

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Law Reform

The Ellis case is a good example of the "law" having being followed to the letter, (even if the terms of reference for the "law" has on numerous occasions been appallingly narrow) - with Justice being the victim.

The case has exposed the need for significant law reform on particular issues being required. New Zealand needs and deserves law that will deliver justice to current victims of our legal system, such as Peter Ellis.

The following page provides links to reports and discussion on the various issues outlined.

This page last updated Feb 26 2006

Miscarriages of Justice

Comment - New Zealand should be grateful to the report of Sir Thomas Thorp - December 2005 on "Miscarriages of Justice"   There appears to be a growing understanding that the current Justice System is not able to remedy miscarriages of justice, where such injustice is not caused by flaws in the legal process.   New Zealand has every justification for claiming that we have a fine "Legal System" but have a second rate "Justice System"

Enclosed are conference proceedings from the Legal Research Foundation, held in February 2006

"Expert" witnesses and Evidence Law 23G

Comment - Ill-conceived law passed in stealth in the late 80's, with disastrous effects for justice in the Ellis case.  The law permitted Karen Zelas to present her prejudicial beliefs "behaviour 'consistent with sexual abuse" as though those beliefs had a scientific basis

A recent (late 2004) Appeal Court ruling offers the possibility for appeal grounds for Peter Ellis, as well as hundreds of other sexual abuse cases where this law of prejudice has been applied.

The Prosecution of Sexual Offences

Comment - There has always been a conflict between advocates for victims of sexual abuse, and advocates concerned about the possibility of the innocent being wrongfully convicted.

On the one hand, the "sexual abuse industry" appears to never consider the concerns of those accused; prejudicially refers to complainants as "victims"; and promotes law changes to make convictions easier.

On the other hand, people like Peter Ellis have been wrongfully convicted, and our law appears to have no safeguards either to have prevented that happening in the first place, or rectifying the mistake later.

This site recognises the need for justice, and welcomes the successful prosecution of those guilty of sexual abuse. The crime is serious and should be treated so. But this site also is strongly of the opinion that the seriousness of the crime should not be any justification for lowering standards of evidence:  

It is better that 100 guilty men be free than one innocent person be wrongfully convicted - A crime that has been committed cannot be undone - but our justice system can endeavour to ensure that it is not responsible itself for perpetrating harm.

Unanimous jury verdicts

Law reform promoted by Justice Minister Phil Goff recommends that unanimous jury decisions will no longer be required " to reduce the high number of hung juries and to prevent so-called rogue jurors unduly influencing a verdict"

This site is extremely concerned about such a law change. It appears to be being promoted without any justification other than a hypothesis of Goff's.

The Peter Ellis case, and others, suggests that even our current justice system requiring unanimous verdicts is no safeguard that an innocent person will be found not guilty. Lowering of the existing standards is likely to cause more examples of injustice, than less.

The need for politicians to be seen to be "tough on crime" is understandable, but that need should be tempered with a commitment to the highest standards of justice.

Criminal Cases Review Commission (UK)

Why is there not a similar body in New Zealand?

Peter Ellis is to New Zealand as the Birmingham Six is to the UK.

Compensation for the Wrongfully Convicted

The record of successive governments on this issue has been miserly, showing that Ministers of Justice have little empathy or understanding of the harm done to the falsely accused, and the wrongfully convicted

Reports not yet included….