MENZ Issues

Another Judge breaks ranks on Domestic Violence

Jail no solution for wife bashers Dominion Post

The first thing that struck me about this article was the odd headline – the use of the word “basher” is clearly intended to inspire hatred towards the men referred to in the story, even though it directly contradicts the reported facts. Headlines are an editorial decision – one wonders why the Dom. Post has so much investment in ‘spinning’ this.

The story by Anna Saunders begins by paraphrasing the judge concerned:

AS: Jailing men who beat their partners is not always the best option and some should be let off without conviction, a judge says.

Now I bet the word “beat” was not what was actually said. This type of systematic language distortion is characteristic of Radical Feminist propaganda about Domestic Violence – how it works in a court situation is described by lawyer Terry Carson in his article ‘Fiction In The Family Court’.

By the time the article starts reporting the actual facts, we have been given two clear signals that what follows is not considered politically correct.

AS: Judge Philip Recordon, who works at Waitakere’s pilot Family Violence Court, told a restorative justice conference this week that a hardline approach to domestic violence “flies in the face of reality” and fresh ideas were needed.

Next, before expanding the judge’s comment or putting it in any kind of context, a spot of character denigration:

AS: He angered women’s groups and some media earlier this year when he granted an All Black permanent name suppression after he pleaded guilty to beating his pregnant wife. The player was discharged without conviction. Critics said the decision sent the message that family violence was not being taken seriously.

I trust by now you are all going tut, tut, shaking your head and thinking “why would anybody take this man seriously?” No? You’ve obviously been spending too much time reading MENZ Issues!

AS: Judge Recordon said after the conference that some judges were inclined to “kick for touch” on domestic violence cases. Interviews with 20 New Zealand judges last year found that 17 would not consider a discharge without conviction in domestic violence cases.

This is the first bit of data I’ve seen which give a clue as to the percentage of Family Court Judges who subscribe to hardline feminist ideology. I would have guessed at around 75% – looks like it’s even worse than I thought!

The article continues with some sensible and non-ideological discussion about how to best deliver what people applying to the court actually want and need:

AS: He argued it should be considered in a minority of cases “at the lower end of the scale”, for men with no previous convictions. Sending them to prison was not always effective. “I would very rarely put someone in prison and very rarely lock someone up. (Some judges) remand in custody automatically.”

He pointed out that women chose to stay with their partners in 80 per cent of domestic violence cases.

About 85 per cent of Family Violence Court cases with a not guilty plea foundered — partly because women did not want to give evidence if their partners would be convicted or end up in jail. It was more effective to “strengthen families” by discharging the men without conviction in minor cases and ensuring they completed anger management courses and drug and alcohol assessments.

“The more you can do to change his behaviour the better — what’s the point of locking them up if you can avoid it? If what you’re doing is trying to impose separation through a court system all you’re doing is driving a wedge between the couple and the justice system.”

Finally, the Judge shows just how much out of line he really is:

AS: Judge Recordon wants the Justice Ministry to pay for an evaluation of Waitakere’s Family Violence Court to prove his “therapeutic” approach works.

The Justice Ministry agreeing to properly evaluate outcomes? You have got to be kidding – what if (oh the horror) it showed that children whose parents are dealt with by Judge Recordon are more likely stay in touch with their fathers?

Naturally, the usual suspects disagree:

AS: The national director of the National Network of Stopping Violence Services, Brian Gardner, said discharging without conviction risked sending the message that domestic violence was a lesser crime. “We need to treat domestic violence for what it is: an assault. New Zealand men need to front up to the seriousness of what they’re doing.”

The other 17 judges were correct in taking a hardline approach, he said. A mixture of a conviction and rehabilitation programmes was generally the most effective approach.

Women’s Refuge chief executive Heather Henare said there was a risk that men would not attend programmes.