For and against a criminal case review commission

In their weekly joint column Jacinda Ardern and David Seymour discuss the Teina Pora case andoffer different views on whether New Zealand should have a criminal case review commission.

Ardern in Jacinda v David: ‘Teina Pora case has much to teach us’:

We have long advocated for the introduction of an independent criminal case review commission – a place where cases like this can be reviewed independently and sent back to the Appeal Court. A similar commission operates in England and Wales and, in the last 15 years, 320 of the 480 convictions they referred to the Appeal Court were overturned. We need the same here.

And she says we need more before we get to the stage of needing a review of cases that have gone wrong.

But all of that still means picking up the pieces once we get things wrong. If we want true preventative change, we have to ask how a young man was able to be questioned, charged, and convicted of a murder he did not commit. There are many factors, but one is FASD.

I am not arguing that everyone with a neurodisability in our justice system is innocent. I am arguing that we should give them a fair go. We need to get a handle on the prevalence of these cases before our courts, we need to properly train our police force on how to manage them, and we need a court that – if found guilty, focuses on interventions that are going to work.

Seymour:

Fortunately, police have come a long way in the 20 years since Mr Pora was charged, especially with regards to understanding of and processes around disabilities.

Ensuring we have a strong criminal justice system won’t be achieved by establishing yet another government commission. Ultimately, that replicates the royal prerogative of mercy (appeals considered by the Governor General) and undermines the role of the appeal courts.

The Police will always make mistakes – they often investigate crimes in very difficult circumstances – and sometimes they will make bad mistakes.

Our criminal justice system has changed since the Pora case which was able to appeal to the Privy Council in England.

I hope it is robust enough now to deal with justice gone wrong. In the past our justice system seems to have at times at least protected poor cases from sufficient scrutiny. They are also limited by only looking at specific points of law rather than wider issues.

And I hope the police have learnt a lot from their mistakes in the Pora case.

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14 Comments

  1. chrism56

     /  19th June 2016

    Has there ever been any problem where Ms Ardern has not suggested the solution is a Commision? I can’t remember one. It is further evidence that Labour has no ideas, except to oppose National.

    Reply
    • Blazer

       /  19th June 2016

      Please tell me what Nationals ‘ideas’ are for NZ!English confessed he had….none!

      Reply
  2. Alan Wilkinson

     /  19th June 2016

    I think Seymour is uninformed on the subject. Hope is not a solution and he offers no reason NZ differs from similar jurisdictions which have proven need and effectiveness.

    Reply
    • Alan Wilkinson

       /  19th June 2016

      As for undermining the Appeal Court, I think that court has done it effectively for itself to the point that senior barristers have publicly stated their refusal to use it.

      Reply
      • Gezza

         /  19th June 2016

        Yes indeed. Vince Siemer’s Kiwis First website, especially the NZ Judge Profiles, is a good read.

        Reply
  3. artcroft

     /  19th June 2016

    Pora made a false confession to the police. In other words he lied. That shouldn’t present a challenge to the cops. People lie to them every day. Its hard to believe that a team of senior detectives couldn’t see through the lies of someone like Pora. Someone who wanted to be helpful yet couldn’t give them any helpful information – because he was lying. Still good to know that 20 years later the cops are now wise to the idea that people lie to them. Next we’ll hear that teachers have discovered that the dog never did eat that homework.

    Reply
  4. David Farrar posts: On this one I agree with Jacinda

    I agree. The fact that two thirds of the cases the UK bodies refer to the courts are successful show that.

    Reply
  5. Blazer

     /  19th June 2016

    I think Steve Rutherford a detective involved with this case used to present CrimeWatch?or something similar….he never used to be shy about describing offenders as ‘scum’.Police incompetence is quite alarming sometimes.As has been pointed out ,they were alerted to Rewa being the perp early and through bungling incompetence let him go on to commit many more rapes.Reminds me of the detective in charge of the Jules Mika case…who ignored the advice from another detective re the murder of Teresa Cormack.When Mikus was arrested due to DNA many years later the walloper in question appeared in Womens magazines,portrayed as some resolute hero who never gave !

    Reply
  6. Moderator, for consideration please. I would like to see evidence of your claims Blazer. You, in my opinion have passed the point of fair comment to libel by stating this : “I think Steve Rutherford a detective involved with this case used to present CrimeWatch?or something similar….he never used to be shy about describing offenders as ‘scum’.Police incompetence is quite alarming sometimes.” However, if you can establish that this is fair comment, I would be prepared to accept it. But I think it should be withdrawn on the basis you named a person who may not be able to read what you said, and respond?

    Reply
    • Blazer

       /  19th June 2016

      Well Col,a correction…it was Bell not Rutherford who presented a T.V series.Rutherford was the lead detective in the Pora case.He took Pora to the scene of the crime and asked Pora to identify it.Pora could not but nevertheless the intrepid detective got his man in thew end and wrapped up the case….didn’t he?

      Reply
      • Thank you Blazer, I don’t necessarily agree with your interpretation of the events, unless you were there? I still think you owe an apology and retraction, without embellishment, to Steve Rutherford for your own protection.

        Reply
        • Blazer

           /  19th June 2016

          theysay its hard to get blood out of a stone…with trusts ,offshore tax havens and smart lawyers and accountants its almost impossible…so I’m told.I can say that Rutherfords Police work re the Pora case is an indictment on the NZ Police ….suck it up.

          Reply

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