Paedophiles part III

Following up on my previous pieces here on the controversies in Queensland surrounding Dennis Ferguson,  Jeremy Gans at Charterblog writes about the possible impact of a new piece of legislation that allows for a judge-only trial in cases where pre-trial publicity may effect jury deliberations.

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8 Comments

  1. I’m concerned about a no-jury trial, as I can recall some pretty horrific statements/attitudes from the bench byJudges in years past. eg.

    It’s not as bad for a prostitute to be raped as a ‘decentt’ woman in the community.
    Rape is not so bad if the victim is under the influence of alcohol.
    Laying blame at the feet of the victim for the clothes or time of day when she was attacked.
    The fact that she did not put up a fight, or begged the attacker to use a condom? Not rape – she ‘consented’?
    I also recall a Judge who committed suicide in NSW when a story was going to break re his paedophile activities.
    The recent 6 month jail of a person (for having child pornography on his computer/s) who worked in the Police Prosecutor’s office.
    I’m not naive enough to think that Judges, solicitors etc aren’t involved in paedophile activities. Front page story in SMH last weekend re a policeman and the child of his friend!
    I like trial by jury – not perfect, but ‘safer’ for us all.
    I also like the fact, that the accused MUST agree with a Judge only trial.
    I’m not into protecting criminals, but even Ivan Milat (backpacker murderers) was given a fair trial, as were the horrific murderers of Anita Cobby(NSW).
    Why didn’t the Parliament lay down more stringent rules re media reporting of alleged criminals before the trial. They’ll do anything to sell papers or TV prime time ‘shock’ stories – good for ratings. That’s where the trouble starts. It’s a difficult fine line perhaps, between freedom of the press and the defendant’s right to a fair trial, but not impossible. Too many in the media portray guilt by association or assertion, thoughts or ??I’m concerned re the forthcoming trials of the 2 doctors in the news at present – 1 from Qld and one from Sth coast NSW? I think the media should have refrained from its derogative headline-grabbing terminology. It may interfere with natural justice? I hope not!

  2. I think they should use a jury in all trials. That way the person is more likely to get the punishment he/she may richly deserve. I find that judges and magistrates make stupid decisions.

    If they had kept a convicted multiple sex offender such as Dennis Ferguson behind bars in the first place, there wouldn’t be an issue relating to him at all.

    Instead we had the government spending large amounts of taxation revenue protecting the poor dear paedophile from the bad angry parents.

  3. I’m not sure on this either way, and it’s nt just about peadophiles, but many types of cases. It seems that some trials involve a lot of technical argument that the average person would find difficult to get their head around. Similarly, lawyers use a lot of psychological and legal “tricks” to lead people to believe something that might not be the case. Also, some trials go a long time which may be difficult for people to have time off from work or study.

    And yet, as Lorikeet says, some judges (though I wonder what percentage) have made some stupid sounding statements. I’m not sure I’d agree with others as to whether their legal decisions that many disagree with are necessarily stupid though.

    Either way, I don’t think we should be blaming judges or juries for outcomes we personally disagree with.

  4. Muzz:

    Judges often make whatever decisions the government tells them to, sometimes based on the fact they won’t build any jails or shell out in civil cases (all about money).

    I think the government is to blame for a lot of stupidity. Judges are often just the scapegoats. If the jury comes to a jailable decision, they just dish up a light sentence or community service to minimise costs.

    It is also important to remember that lawyers also have the opportunity to quiz potential jurors and reject them if they think they won’t support their side of the argument. How fair is that?

    Here’s something I’ve noticed about Anna Bligh. The more unpopular she thinks her decisions will be, the larger the artificial smile on her face.

    She could have done a toothpaste commercial over protecting paedophiles, and also allowing Japanese to dump their greenhouse garbage in Queensland’s backyard.

  5. LORIKEET – Juries don’t set jail terms, only Judges/Magistrates do that. Juries in some cases nominate/award amounts in civic cases, such as defamation or injury cases, but not sentences.
    BOTH legal teams can only reject a certain number of potential jurors – 4 or 5 perhaps? I’m not sure! It’s not unfair, as they can only reject the same number. The role of the prosecution and defence lawyers are to present their case/s based on the evidence. I support it 100%, even the worst and horrific crimes should win or lose by stringent scrutiny of the evidence. That’s fair and just, not always perfect, and sometimes juries make the wrong decision (as a few in WA in recent times showed) but what’s the alternative? Lynch mobs? I don’t think Anna Bligh supports paedophiles, her job was to support the law, and that’s what she did. The case against Ferguson was not straight foward or strong. That’s not her fault. If we water down the law re crimes we find most repugnant, it demeans the law over all – that leads to a loss of faith in the justice system. People who aren’t physically attractive for example, could be treated differently for example. I wouldn’t like to live in a country that weakened the justice system – that’s what happened over time in Zimbabwe for example – then progressed to abusing the law for Mugabe’s dictatorial motives.

    As for Japan’s dumping rubbish in Qld – I abhor that, regardless of who or where, but we should stop polluting Papua New Guinea (many aust companies destroying not only land, but lifestyles and fishing industry – causing poverty as well as pollution)for example, before we start complaining about junk here. Unless we ‘behave’ we can’t criticize others – what about uranium mines in WA, and why is there so much poverty in that state during this resources ‘boom’? Chopping down trees in Tasmania, and causing horrific damage to waterways, roads etc.In one yr, one company, a profit of $74 million – with only $3 million going to community??

  6. Naomi:

    When I said “they just dish up a light sentence ….” I was talking about the judges. It’s not a good idea to assume other people are stupid.

    When I attended a civil case for damages (injury), there was no jury, just one very clearly biased judge.

    In regard to rejection of jurors, I’m sure there are some jurors a legal team would be more interested in rejecting/accepting than others. They should have to take whoever they get, instead of attempting to “load” the jury.

    One young man told me he kept getting rejected every day, so I suggested that he wear completely different clothes.

    I can assure you I don’t want any laws watered down. In relation to paedophiles, I think the law should be changed to keep serial offenders behind bars permanently.

  7. LORIKEET – I don’t think you’re stupid, but if you look at your post on Sept 20, you implied a link between juries and sentences. The Juries role is over when they reach their verdict, except in some civil cases. Sometimes the Defence has a choice, whether a case is heard before a Jury or just a Judge in civil cases.

    As to rejection of jurors. They do have to accept “what they get” in a strict sense, as they can’t choose from the community at large, just those who are present that day. I don’t have a problem with that, nor with BOTH sides being able to reject a certain number each, before them. If you keep in mind, that it’s the EVIDENCE that is scrutinized – that’s the relevant part. Some people may look too immature, or may not understand technical business things in a fraud trial for example?If the evidence is strong enough, the case will bring about justice – in most cases! The legal teams might believe that the evidence in a horrific murder trial might be too bad for a young person, for example!

    In a democratic country, we assume, that people are capable of change; except in the most hideously violent cases (like Anita Cobby or the Backpacker murders) where those perpetrators are never to be released. I’ve heard many psychiatrists state, that paedophiles can be ‘cured’. I’m certainly not advocating on their behalf, but I’ve seen too much of oppressive regimes, and if you start down that path, we all lose! Where do we stop? With those who threaten the unlawful, inhumane laws? Lock them up who protest? I don’t want to live in a country like that. I’d rather move to change the ‘bad bits’ here! A good example of injustice is Guantanamo Bay; where those who ‘arrest’ the defendent, who make the laws, who sit in judgement and decide on the punishment are all from the Military – even if the person is found innocent, the President can still keep them locked up “until the war on terror is over” which could be (by their decree) another 30-40 yrs. Scary!

  8. Naomi:

    I don’t want to live in a country where serial paedophiles who clearly aren’t playing with a full deck are let back out into the society to continue doing damage to our children.

    On the available evidence, I wouldn’t agree that paedophiles can be cured except possibly in a small number of cases, or that many criminals are capable of change.

    I have a young friend whose sister is a parole officer. He says she thinks most criminal tendencies are inborn and mostly intractable.

    I don’t think we have a democratic society. Very often, the general attitude is laissez faire.

    Now I will be more specific about the civil case I attended. The government selected out as the test case, a woman who had previously tried to commit suicide when her boyfriend dumped her. Then, despite irrefutable evidence being given by medical experts at the top of their field, the judge decided she was a nutcase and deserving of nothing.

    This particular woman was working for the state Department of Justice when she suffered the injury.

    The government runs the courts, and the government decides whether or not it wants to part with billions of dollars in damages. That’s why they don’t want a jury.

    In cases such as those of Dr Patel and Dennis Ferguson, the government will decide what happens to them.

    Even if a jury were used and it was decided they had both committed jailable offences, the JUDGES would still dish up whatever (probably soft) sentences the government had already chosen.

    I don’t think we can compare what happens in Australian courts with what happens in Guantanamo Bay.

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