Simon Power, Enemy of Men
Minister of Justice Simon Power has been talking for some time about introducing an inquisitorial system for cases involving child complainants and for complainants in sex crimes. Of course, he uses the ploy of referring to “child victims” and “sex abuse victims” to manipulate the public towards believing that all such complainants are necessarily victims of real crime, a good example of “begging the question”. But that’s a minor issue.
The term “inquisitorial” is apt given that the Inquisitions were always based on propaganda-fuelled superstition that from the late middle ages included witch-hunting. Power plans to remove lawyers and the process of cross-examination from sexual trials, and plans to remove the need for complainants to tell their story in Court at all (relying instead on statements they made at the time they first complained). On National Radio, 21 June 2010 he stated that Austria used a “hybrid” system for child complainants in which their initial allegations are allowed to stand in the hearing
“so you didn’t have the two years down the track a child being cross-examined on something that occurred when they were 5 or 6 years old and being asked to verify or have their credibility tested as to the veracity of that evidence when they were 7 or 8 years old”.
He also claimed that
“the process at the moment could be regarded as just simply too brutal on those types of victims and witnesses”
“I’m very interested in any notion that makes the Court system less brutal for those victims of child abuse, child violence and sexual violence”.
So Power wants the Court to stop testing child complainants’ credibility and the veracity of their evidence. But isn’t that what a hearing is for? He also decided it would be a good idea to extend the Austrian-style approach to adult sex abuse complainants as well. A year earlier he proposed
“the introduction of a positive definition of sexual consent and allowing the complainant’s sexual history to be heard only at the judge’s discretion”,
and he was quoted as saying
“All we are saying here is that avoid an individual, but largely a woman, in a court situation being confronted with those types of questions in that type of forum, with no notice, is not acceptable”.
His muddled wording throughout his statements is indicative of the muddled thinking underlying his ideas.
Firstly, my understanding is that NZ law has for a long time required the judge’s permission for any cross-examination of sexual complainants relating to their own sexual history. ItÃ¯Â¿Â½’ difficult to believe that our Minister of Justice was not aware of this.
Secondly, although a logical argument might be mounted for considering changes regarding child complainants, no justification is obvious for applying those changes to sexual allegations. Why might it be any more traumatic for someone to tell a Court about their experience of a sexual offence than, for example, to tell a Court about being permanently disabled through a gang robbery and beating (when the gang has also threatened to kill the complainant and family if (s)he testifies), or a terrifying home invasion, or a frightening accident caused by a drunk driver? (In fact, genuine victims of such offences will often welcome the opportunity to tell their story in Court and hold the offenders accountable; why is it assumed that this would not be so for genuine victims of sexual offences?) The key difference simply amounts to gender: women are much more likely than men to be complainants about sexual offences, unlike most other forms of crime. Power’s statement a year ago showed his true motivation: to appeal to women’s vote by further increasing their advantage over men in the legal system, possibly based on some sense of anachronistic chivalry. How can it be acceptable to base our legal system on gender privilege?
I can already hear the feminists object that only a small proportion of sexual offence trials result in a conviction, and that a much smaller proportion of offences are ever reported. They will claim that women don’t report sexual crimes because the Court system treats them so badly. Well, sexual complainants are already given special treatment in a variety of ways, and they won’t face any worse treatment in the process than other complainants for other alleged offences. It is true that sexual allegations are especially difficult to prove, given that they usually come down to “he said, she said”, there are no witnesses and there are often complex disputes concerning the complainant’s consent, memory and impairment through drugs or alcohol. It does not help that many complainants fail to protect any forensic evidence and then expect the system to convict based purely on their word. What Simon Power proposes will do exactly that; he wants the law to enable women to achieve easier conviction and imprisonment of men by simply pointing a finger at them with no need to bring better evidence.
Thirdly, the changes Power seeks will not achieve greater justice. Justice requires fairness towards both complainants and accused. A longstanding principle fundamental to our justice system has been that greater injustice is caused by punishing a truly innocent person than by acquitting a truly guilty person (or even 100 guilty people). That seems reasonable, especially given that complainants have at least had their opportunity to stand up and accuse someone publicly while every accused person of serious crimes will already have been punished severely regardless of the trial’s outcome, for example through financial loss, loss of reputation and health damage due to stress. Unlike, for example, genetic evidence, Power’s proposed changes provide nothing to increase the ability of a judge or jury to distinguish between true and false allegations but are simply procedural changes that serve to lower the goalposts for achieving conviction. Any resulting increase in correct convictions of truly guilty defendants will be accompanied by a similar increase in false convictions of truly innocent defendants. This will simply sacrifice more innocent men in a quest to reduce a claimed number of true offenders who go unconvicted. It amounts to a cynical disregard for men’s welfare and human rights.
Fourthly, Power’s description of the Court process for these particular complainants as “brutal” was manipulative and incorrect. It may be that the Court process is “brutal” towards evidence that is dishonest, inconsistent or unconvincing, but so it should be. That applies just as much to the defendant’s evidence, but he is the only person in the trial whose treatment could realistically be called brutal, especially if falsely accused. For child witnesses and complainants, I doubt that any judge would allow a brutal process. Cases I have observed have always involved a very protective judge and all cross-examination is carried out using appropriate language in gentle, patient and supportive style. A child will often be cross-examined through video while (s)he sits in a separate room with an adult support person. The law was recently changed to enable child complainants to have their evidence-in-chief presented via a pre-recorded evidential video interview rather than having to tell their story in person. For adult sexual complainants, how is the Court process any more brutal than for any other adult complainant? If you allege that your neighbour threatened to kill you, you can be sure your neighbour’s lawyer will closely test any inconsistencies in your story and will bring up anything available that might show you are not a credible complainant. If that’s not ok then Power’s changes should apply to all cases, not just sexual ones that mainly involve women. And as pointed out above, it’s unlikely that recounting one’s story of sexual assault would be any more traumatic or “brutal” than recounting many other crimes. Ironically, Power’s proposal implies that women complainants need to be treated like children.
Like most men I am keen to see true sexual offenders convicted, punished and helped to avoid further offending. But the changes Power proposes are blatant misandry, a further degradation of men as an underclass in NZ. Already, for little reason other than the likely gender of the offender, sentence ranges for sexual offending are disproportionate to other serious crimes that might harm, maim or permanently disable victims, especially when those victims are male. Power’s changes amount to totalitarianism against men, a convenient way of imprisoning them for long periods on weak evidence. His speech to Women’s Refuge a few days ago showed, among other things, his supportive acceptance of their current misandrist propaganda campaign and for women’s ability to have men thrown out on the street at will. Sadly, by the time most NZ men wake up to what’s happening they will be powerless to object without being sent to jail. Simon Power is an enemy of men, as is his party that supports his feminist war on the male gender.
I have said this before… just because there is a small proportion of convictions doesn’t mean there is something wrong, it could actually mean there is a large number of false claims!
Secondly… I have heard and read numerous times that x number of rapes are never reported… if they’re never reported how did they come to that number? Just like the current campaign using the old 1 in 3 claim!
Hans, Thank you once again for superb analysis and sensible opinions.
Just goes to show that despite Helen Clake’s socialist feminist cabal being thrown out, it’s business as usual for chivalrists – the lapdogs of feminism.
I fear that if Simon Power gets his way then the justice department will grow whilst personal rights such as facing one’s accuser will shrink.
To their credit the new government in UK has just gone in precisely the opposite direction despite Labor’s Harriet Harmen’s histrionics.
It may be worth looking into how they achieved that as it is a very important policy victory.
When I visit UK next time I will be able to breath just a little easier knowing that my name will be protected from publicity for 14 days (mind you I could like one UK man there recently be held in custody for up to three months) if some malicious woman falsely accuses me of rape.
There’s a very sad irony I find in this issue too.
The word rape can be used in it’s more specific sense of meaning a sexual violation which boils down to a person having their body used for someone elses gratification against their will.
It can also be used in a more general sense to mean the sacking of a city, state or some other community as in ‘The Romans raped the city of all it’s statues, gold and other fine things’.
I see that in both senses of the word Simon Power is driving towards a system which will rape innocent people.
His proposed new system will incarcerate innocent men
their body’s will definitely be used by him against their will – in this case to bloat his ministry.
It will also rape the society emotionally by spreading needless fear and anger (already in hysterical overdrive amongst feminists like those at Women’s Refuge who now employ Satchi and Satchi to terrorise us all with their 1 in 3 misandric propaganda).
It will rape society materially too as it will have to be funded by the taxpayer and increasing number of ‘convicted’ will have to be squeezed into an already stretched prison service.
Just take a look here.
Note the reports pointing to the rapid growth in the prison population since 1986. An increase between 1986 and 1996 of 58% more prisoners. Even allowing for NZs population growth that’s staggering!
right on the button too.
Yes, Hans, I agree with Skeptic that you give a good analysis of several pertinent points.
The Austrian system is as different from our system as it is from the Napoleonic Code countries where ‘inquisition’ by judges is the norm. I despair of truth ever being uncovered and shown in our system which relies on a Judge deciding between two arguements rather than facts. The combative lawyers present their version of events and attack one another and the Judge’s role is to Judge who won the boxing match. Truth and facts get completely overlooked and are often completely ruled out. Often a mass of pertinent and convincing factual evidence is refused consderation due to some lawyer-argued ‘Technicality’.
The use of the wod ‘Inquisition’ is valid, however, indicating that the Judge should have the power to question well outside of the briefs of the two opposing lawyers.
The ‘Spanish Inquistion’ has a bad name. It was actually an attempt to seek evidence of guilt or innocence, albeit not well done. It was introduced to get away from the role of money and rank as winners in arguements where one person accused another. The Inquisition was the first attempt by European powers to establish procedure and process. The Inquisition set rules of evidence and sat ‘above’ the accuser and the accused. It asked questions. It demanded answers. If you look at the record of the Inquisition it exonerated far more people than it condemned, unlike our family court and sexual abuse fiascos.
If you’re suggesting, Amfortas, that Power’s proposed Inquisition may improve justice for men, I cannot share your optimism. As I said, the proposed changes will provide nothing to improve a jury’s ability to discern truth from falsehood, and Power’s aim is clearly to increase conviction rates and to protect female complainants from scrutiny of their allegations, regardless of increased injustice towards innocent men.
Paul Elam makes an argument here for Jury Nullification in rape trials:
Long story short, if the legal system is systemically flawed with respect to rape trial, then juries should acquit regardless of evidence or witness testimonies, as the likelihood of unsafe verdicts is too great.
Mr. Power appears to be anticipating such a response from the public however, as I assume his inquisitorial system would render juries powerless.
The jury system is what currently prevails, rc.
I read Paul’s article and find that all the descriptions he gives and the arguements presented are valid but the solution offered is simply playing into the hands of the corrupt. It is the counsel of the already corrupted.
If an accused is shown to be guilty beyond any reasonable doubt that may be held by the juror, then it is incumbent upon a man of integrity to bring in a verdict. He has a civic duty and personal honour to consider and deal with honestly. Simply refusing to find ‘guilty’ DESPITE being convinced beyond doubt is an appalling idea lacking any consideration of Integrity. It is DISHONEST.
Two wrongs do not make a right.
A courageous man would task the Judge to provide all necessary information, should the juror doubt that all the evidence has not been presented or ‘technicalities’ and ‘shield laws’ have ruled out ALL the truth.
The Juror is obliged to take an oath to consider the Truth, the WHOLE Truth and NOTHING BUT the Truth; and those giving evidence do the same.
We await a Juror with the balls to tell a Judge that the Oath he took – at the Court’s Requirement and Direction – is superior to the Judge’s ‘directions’ or the shennanigans of the lawyers, or ‘precedents’ of witholding information that will allow the character of the accuser to be considered in assessing motive.
NOTHING BUT the truth. No ‘additional’ protections’ for one party or another; no ‘ranking’ of evidence by who gives it, be they Police or ‘Professionals’; no special credence given to third-party opinions from ‘Experts’ who are irrelvant and/or not even ‘expert.
Rather than refusing to give a finding of gulty simply because the juror considers the ‘system’ to be corrupt, he/she can refuse to give any finding of guilt at all until convinced beyond reasonable doubt after the presentation of ALL the facts pertaining to the matter, as vowed.
It is for the Juror to decide what is enough evidence and what isn’t. Not the Court.
Interesting ranges of comments. Ã¢â‚¬â€¹Whilst Simon Power had some ridiculous notions like removing depositions stage of trial process and screwing with legal aid funding he did have one thing in his favor in that he advocated an inquisitorial system to solve problems caused by the currently flawed adversarial system that focuses on WINNING and where TRUTH is the last thing Police and Crown Prosecutors want juries to hear. Naturally Collins vetoed anything her predecessor started but we know she was one of the biggest criminals in John Key’s cabinet. Judith Collins said that “while the sentiment for an inquisitorial proposal was sound the practicality was not” which just showed how flawed her thinking was until she was accused of indiscretions and pleaded innocence when we all knew she was guilty of numerous political indiscretions.
Our current criminal justice system is fundamentally flawed in several respects and an inquisitorial system would go some way toward rectifying those issues so long as ignorant politicians were excluded from the design.
At trials witnesses are required to swear to tell the truth whilst crown prosecutors do everything in their power to ensure that juries never hear the truth.
Judges tell juries that defendants are innocent until proven guilty which is simply a judicial myth. Most people’s perception is that anyone charged and brought to trial must be guilty because police don’t charge innocent people or plant/fabricate evidence and Crown Prosecutors are never corrupt when in reality the reverse is too often the case.
If INNOCENT UNTIL PROVEN GUILTY was a reality the National Govt wouldn’t be squandering millions of taxpayer dollars to avoid compensating David Bain.
The government’s attitude to historic sex allegations with no statute of limitations is crowding our prisons with old men (most of whom shouldn’t be there and many who will die there) because police and crown prosecutors accept that ALL COMPLAINANTS (conveniently called victims) tell the truth and in the few cases where proven they were lying the punishment is a joke compared to what was meted out to the real victim (the guy they got police to charge).
We know that police NEVER investigate any of those complaints to find the truth. They leave that to Courts and Juries to waste millions of taxpayer dollars. Commissioner Bush is this country’s worst criminal and he has plenty of mates in police history.
It is for this reason we need an inquisitorial system which would be an independant inquiry to uncover the TRUTH with no sides (lawyers) playing a game (trial) to win at all costs regardless of the TRUTH that most lawyers hope juries never get to hear.