Protest at Ben Easton Trial 22nd Feb 2002
In the Waitakere District Court today Ben Easton was convicted and discharged for failing to attend a 'Stopping Violence' course. As the District Court is not secret like the Family Court in New Zealand, a group of supporters was in Court to see justice done.
Judge Field listened carefully to Ben's defence, but pointed out that the law compelled him to take a "narrow view" of the situation. As the prosecution had established all the necessary elements (there being no argument as to the facts), Ben was convicted. Commenting that he realised it was something of a test case, Judge Field noted that the maximum sentence for this crime is six month's imprisonment. Ben is unemployed and unable to pay a fine. The Judge went on to say that he saw no reason to waste more of the Court's time by imposing a community-based sentence and having Ben turn up again in the future for failing to comply with that. Ben has no criminal record has never been violent. He is even respectful when dealing with the bureaucracy which has kidnapped his children - protestors claim a jail term would be an outrage. The judge must have agreed - Ben was discharged without penalty.
Ben discusses the trial with his mum and Andrew Wooton during an adjournment:
When protestors arrived, there were two carloads of Police waiting. One zealous officer confiscated the 'Whores of the Court' placard, saying it was "offensive". Suggestions were made that a hammer Jim used to bang signs into the ground might need to be collected from the Police Station because it was an "offensive weapon". When these tactics failed to provoke an aggressive response from protestors the cops relaxed and spent the rest of the morning twiddling their thumbs. One wonders how much money the Crown has wasted on this single case, which is far from over. His young children have not been allowed to see him for over a year, but Ben is one of the new breed of dads who will fight forever against this type of oppression and intimidation.
Two officers successfully preventing JimBWariour from rioting (actually, they were interested to hear what the protest was about):
Ben and some of his supporters outside Henderson Court.
Next Protest - Helen Clark's electorate office June 11th 2002
The previous protest was at an Auckland Psychologists' rooms 14th February 2002
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