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Punishing us for Police misconduct

  • October 25th, 2012

I look forward to reading Justice Simon France's reasons in the Red Devils case for the considering it a good idea to express his view of  Police misconduct by leaving alleged crime unpunished.

I've criticised the policy before, here, and here.

There may be compelling reasons why it should have been applied in this case. The charges may have involved no obvious victims to be outraged by the loss of justice for them.

I hope that the reasoning reflects more than the common arrogance of our law, lawyers and judges toward victims and potential victims of crime. They see the criminal law as their game. In that game the lawyers (including the judges), criminals and the Police win or lose in each round according to whoever best exploits arcane rules. They regard as incidental any right to justice of third parties (the community and victims).  

The costs to others when staying proceedings against alleged offenders who may be guilty should be calculated. They should be weighed against the expected benefit of the "message" sent to the Police by a discharge or stay, in comparison with more targetted disciplines. Conceivably a cost  could be a Police resentment that becomes cynicism and greater disrespect for the law.


  • Harry Young
  • October 25th, 2012
  • 8:38 pm

I despair over our legal system and the lack of government will to impose reason, common sense and the public will on the judiciary.


A major problem with this is that holding Police Officers to account (or holding prison guards to account) for breaches of Bill of Rights (and often even the criminal law), never happens. We need something to make sure Police Officers don't commit crimes in order to solve crimes, and we need something so that Police Officers .
If a Police Officer who conducted illegal surveillance was charged with an offence, or if a Police Officer who conducted a search that was a material breach of the Bill of Rights stood a good chance of losing their job, we'd have some idea that Police were appropriately encouraged not to break the law. But this never happens. If I was one to bet on court proceedings, I would be willing to offer a fair sum of money, at reasonably poor odds, that those involved in forging a search warrant or swearing a false information will not face criminal charges, nor even an action for contempt of court.
Even the abuse meted out at Mangaroa Prison, which resulted in a substantial cash settlement saw no criminal action. A group of prison guards seriously assaulted some prisoners. There were hit squads. There were serious injuries to most of the prisoners, including one whose jaw was broken. These prisoners were then left naked in an outside pen for over 24 hours, without medical treatment. Some were subjected to repeated assaults over a period of days. A few lost their jobs, but no-one was charged.
We then have the "Taunoa" litigation, where prisoners were placed in unlawful solitary confinement, sometimes for years. This case lead to the Prisoners and Victims Claims Act. Was anyone charged over this continued abuse of prisoners? No – it was "systemic". Did anyone face disciplinary proceedings, or lose their job? No. What incentive is there for prisons and prison staff not to break the law in this way again?
Same when it comes to Police – this is all the Courts have. Our Parliament is fond of using legislation to send a message. I'm not, but  I'm somewhat confident a case or two like this will get a message through to Police. There are alternatives, but until we start using them, and until someone can satisfy me they're going to work, I'm happy with this. Your suggestion of "targetted disciplines" is welcome, but I'll wait that one out because it doesn't seem particularly likely that any will actually occur.
p.s. in reply to your particular questions, it does indeed appear that this alleged offending was "victimless".

  • Andrew Flanagan
  • October 29th, 2012
  • 1:18 pm

What an appalling ruling of (referring as a “Justice” is a joke) Simon France to drop the charges of 21 suspected criminals (Red Devils) just because he believed the Police didn’t follow his perception of ‘process’.
2 years’ work of an undercover cop totally wasted thanks to a massively overpaid toff who has no grasp on the lives of 98% of the population. 2 years of immense stress for an undercover cop leading a double life and putting his own well-being at risk, just so a very-precious ‘judge’ can selfishly steal the limelight.
This injustice from our ‘wet bus ticket’ Court system does not surprise me. For the past 2 years, I have had the displeasure of having to deal with the Nelson Family Court. I have experienced:
 A law firm principal who distributed clients’ funds without their approval and on less than one hour’s email (not seen until well after the ‘deadline’) only notification.
 A lawyer who almost totally refused to communicate, let along negotiate, outside of court hearings and withheld for months vital information until the very last possible moment – behaviour that absolutely minimised the possibility of true justice! Same lawyer then hypocritically applied for fees reimbursement, claiming the other party delayed proceedings!! Adding salt to the wound, the judge unjustly ruled in the lawyer’s favour!!! – A judge that made an entire personal character assessment on a single irrelevant email. 
– A judge that is too ‘lazy’ to actually read submitted affidavits, instead relying on court hearing ‘showmanship’ to determine their ruling.
 A system more interested in following (unnecessarily prolonged) process rather than true justice.
 A system that actively looks to financially punish those people who represent themselves, despite major reform to maximise self-representation and minimise lawyer involvement!!
Justice for Simon France would be having him go undercover with the Red Devils – it would do him the world of good! It seems injustice has been associated with him a lot in 2012 – he was also the judge in the Ewen MacDonald/Scott Guy murder case! For the safety of the NZ public, please resign (in disgrace) asap Simon.   

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