Skip to Content »

Canadian ‘sentencing circle’ = jury?

  • January 11th, 2009

Radio New Zealand is reporting a Canadian judge’s decision to refer to a native "sentencing circle" the sentence for a drunk father took his two daughters into a blizzard where they froze to death. The judge will determine the sentence but may have regard to the "circle’s" recommendation.

I’ve long thought that it would be more logical to involve our juries in sentencing than in determining guilt and innocence.

Judges should use the jury as a community representative group to test their sentencing inclinations. In appropriate cases (where the convict clearly identifies with a particular sub-group of society, such as an iwi) judges could ask kaumatua or other representatives for guidance.

Judges should of course ask the victims for their views, and step around the odious refinements of the law governing victim impact statements. There have already been high profile cases (e.g. sentencing for the Lois Dear murder) where they judge has judiciously condoned a victim challenge to the existing law, as victims ‘abuse’ the opportunity to read their statements, by making speeches to the court.

Our new Attorney General, Chris Finlayson could rationalise this. He could free judges from the stupidity of the "tariff". It is time to end the waste of legal aid money on footling appeal adjustments to sentences.


  • Chuck Bird
  • January 11th, 2009
  • 8:01 pm

“It is time to end the waste of legal aid money on footling appeal adjustments to sentences.”

I hope National considers this. We some have natural life for some classes of murders. In the meantime I hope we restrict legal aid for callus and sometime sadistic convicted killers not appealing their conviction but their sentence. I remember the killer two sisters who were sentenced to 28 years. This was reduced to25 on appeal. This would have been on the grounds that someone more sadistic got a lesser sentence.

There should be no appeal for sentence on murder and certainly not at the expense of the taxpayer.

  • Eric Crampton
  • January 13th, 2009
  • 10:24 am

It will be interesting to see what the sentencing circle recommends. I’m not optimistic. Imagine a sentencing circle comprised of the Kahui extended whanau asked to come up with a solution.
See here, for example:

  • admin
  • January 14th, 2009
  • 2:02 pm

I do not know how these circle things are runm but our nearest equivalent is probably the Family Group Conference. Reports I’ve had from some of those are horrifying, with victims revictimised by scum families abetted by unctuous officials.

To me the offender and the victim should make submissions by the decisions (including on any recommendations from ‘community’) should be by clearly impartial people.

Leave your comments:

* Required fields. Your e-mail address will not be published on this site

You can use the following HTML tags:
<a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>