Murder accused, name suppression and international media

The Grace Millane case has raised the issue of the ineffectiveness of name suppression (non-publication orders) when it only applies to New Zealand media. It has been simple online to find out the name of the person accused of the English tourist’s murder, even without trying.

To clarify the situation – at the first court appearance on Monday the accused person’s lawyer asked for name suppression based on fair trial rights, this was declined by the judge, but the lawyer immediately appealed as he is legally able to do. Under current law this gives the accused 20 days automatic suppression, and the judge will make another decision after arguments for and against have been made.

The police have made it clear what the current situation is:

It would be stupid (as well as illegal) to name the accused, or to aid identification of him in any way. Technically, saying ‘you can find it with Google’ could be deemed an aid to finding out, but it is so obvious a way of discovery that it would be ridiculous to take action.

Lawyer Graeme Edgeler tried to do something practical regarding the law: Name suppression appeals

I have long thought that the 20 working days allowed to appeal a refusal to make a suppression order is too long, when the law requires the court appealed from to make an interim suppression order for that period.

The law did not used to require this. There was no automatic right for interim suppression, which used to be a matter of discretion. A defence lawyer could tell a judge of the intention to appeal, and ask for interim suppression.

The judge might ask: will two days (a week/whatever) be enough to appeal? The lawyer might respond: I’ve a trial tomorrow and Thursday, I’d appreciate if I could have until Friday. And the judge could agree. It didn’t always work. But it also didn’t meant an automatic 20 days.

The new law treats an appeal from a refusal to make a suppression order the same as any other appeal – allowing 20 working days to file the notice of appeal, and automatically extending an interim suppression order.

Usually, delaying filing an appeal will be bad for a defendant (if you wait 20 days to appeal a refusal of bail, that means you’ve spent 4 weeks extra in prison), but this is one time where it doesn’t.

It also unreasonably affects the public and news media who wish to report on matters of public importance, and which a judge has ruled it is unreasonable to prohibit them from doing so. In light of this 20 working days is excessive.

So I have drafted a bill, the Criminal Procedure (Interim Suppression Pending Appeal) Amendment Bill, which would reduce the 20 working days allowed to appeal a refusal to make a suppression order to 5 working days.

If anyone knows an MP whom they think would like to propose it as a member’s bill, feel free to direct them to it, over at the Progressive Bills Wiki.

However the Prime Minister has used Labourese for ‘not interested in addressing this’ by saying “At this time, it’s not part of our agenda.”

NZ Herald:  Name suppression laws not about to change

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern says the Government has no plans to change name suppression laws, even though international media have named the man accused of murdering Grace Millane.

This morning Justice Minister Andrew Little criticised British media for naming the accused, who has interim name suppression.

Little said it was potentially jeopardising a fair trial, which could heap more misery on the grieving Millane family.

I think that there is potential for ‘jeopardising a fair trial’ it is unlikely – I think that trials found to have been unfairly  jeopardised are rare (I think Edgeler has said that).

Ardern said she agreed with Little and that name suppression should be adhered to.

Asked if name suppression laws were out of date with global connectivity, Ardern said: “There’s no doubt the environment has changed.”

But the Government was not looking at doing any work on name suppression laws, she said.

“At this time, it’s not part of our agenda.”

So Ardern doesn’t want to fix something that is clearly not working.

If it is something obviously needing modernising because it has become a farce I would have hoped the Government would put it on their agenda.

This is more evidence that the current Ardern led Government can be quite conservative at times, despite claims by Ardern and others that they are ‘progressive’.

Murder, men, shame and blame

The murder of young tourist Grace Millane is terrible, and very sad for her family in particular. Horrendous crimes like murder can impact on many people.

There have been appropriate reactions online, like:

I think that most people would agree with that as some have.

There have also been a noticeable number of different reactions. Like calling on the Government to deal with mental health issues, even going as far as implying blame on the current and past Governments. I think that’s unfair.

Apparently there has been some blaming of the murder victim for her own death – I haven’t seen this but have seen this: “Fuck all of you who are blaming Grace for her own death.” Aand:

I’ve had to go on a blocking spree cos I’ve had so many people tweet me to say she should have been more careful. Women and men alike. It’s as if we’ve regressed a couple of hundred years.

It’s sad that there has been victim blaming. Angry responses to that are understandable, but some go into women versus men territory.

When you argue that women shouldn’t travel alone for fear of violence, you’re arguing that women don’t have the same right to life as men because in effect there are some instances and spaces where women should expect their lives are rendered precarious and meaningless.

Also prevalent is the implication and blaming of all men for murders, and violence generally. There have been many variations to this, including attacks on men for questioning the ‘all men’ blaming. people who have suggested anything like ‘not all men are to blame for the crimes of some’.

And some responses combine things and generalise, like:

Ironically, many of the “What did she expect; she should have been more careful” people are exactly the same ones shouting “ “ the rest of the time.

Men are also effectively blaming all men, or at least all men who say things they disagree with.

To all the guys responding to women’s pain, despair and outrage right now with , please go fuck yourselves. You are part of the problem. We are part of the problem unless we actively confront toxic masculinity and the culture of violence against women.

This troubles me. I don’t feel any responsibility for this crime. I think that ‘all men’ type attacks are likely to be counter-productive, alienating many men who oppose violence, who speak up against violence, who act against violence.

I don’t see how I have any responsibility for a murder in Auckland. Are all Aucklanders responsible in some way? Are all New Zealanders responsible for the safety of tourists?

It’s very sad to hear of the murder of a young tourist, but I also find it sad to see all the blaming and shaming of men generally. I don’t think that will do anything to make tourists or women safer.

Limit to expansion of inquiry into state care abuse

I thought that the expansion of the Royal Commission into Historical Abuse in State Care to also cover ‘Faith-Based Institutions’ was a good thing, and it is, but it has significant limitations.

The Beehive announcement: Royal Commission of Inquiry scope expanded

Cabinet has today agreed to expand the scope of a proposed inquiry into the abuse of children in state care, to include the abuse of children in the care of faith-based institutions.

The Inquiry will be called the Royal Commission into Historical Abuse in State Care and in the Care of Faith-Based Institutions, to reflect its expanded scope. Its terms of reference were released this afternoon.

“Today paves the way for us to confront a dark chapter of our national history by acknowledging what happened to people in state care, and in the care of faith-based institutions, and to learn the lessons for the future,” Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said.

“It was critical we got the Royal Commission right and the scope and purpose of this Inquiry has been carefully considered.

“Extending the scope so the Inquiry could look into both state care and in the care of faith-based institutions was one of the most strongly argued issues in the consultation process,” Internal Affairs Minister Tracey Martin said.

“In broadening the scope we nevertheless remain committed to fulfilling the expectations of those who sought an inquiry into state care.

But earlier this week from Chris Morris, who has just received his award for his series in the ODT on abuse in Catholic schools in Dunedin: Widened inquiry ‘may not go far enough’

The Roman Catholic Bishop of Dunedin says an expanded royal commission into the abuse of children may not go far enough.

Bishop Michael Dooley said yesterday he was “relieved” to hear children abused while in the care of faith-based institutions would now be included.

But the terms of reference specifically excluded private settings for abuse involving faith-based institutions, and it remained unclear whether others – like a church presbytery or a priest’s car – were included.

And Morris followed up by pointing out what could be a significant limitation in Expansion ‘a bitter sweet milestone’

But the press release announcing the expansion also contained four key words that jumped off the page almost immediately, and could yet make all the difference — “in the care of”.

While the terms of reference clearly defined which state-care settings would be included, the section on faith-based institutions was less clear.

It said the inquiry would cover areas where a faith-based institution “assumed responsibility for the care of an individual”.

Faith-based schools and residential and non-residential settings for faith-based care were included.

But fully private settings — except where the person was also in the care of a faith-based institution — were out, it said.

Exactly what else was covered remains open to interpretation, and nobody is yet prepared to say.

Would the inquiry, for example, include the actions of a rogue priest who abuses young parishioners or altar boys in a church presbytery, on day trips to the countryside, or while visiting the homes of his parishioners?

If not, the victims of Dunedin’s paedophile priest, Fr Magnus Murray, would be excluded.

And neither would the inquiry cover the actions of the Catholic Church, which moved Fr Murray to Australia, then brought him back to resume public ministry in New Zealand, exposing more young boys to abuse.

The inquiry must have some limits, but this could be a significant one.

Which would be a shame, as the Catholic Church has welcomed the inclusion of abuse in their church. They seem to have belatedly recognised that they have handled claims of abuse poorly, and need outside help in dealing with it.

There is a lack of clarity on what the expansion of the Royal Commission will cover:

Ms Ardern and Internal Affairs Minister Tracey Martin have been reluctant to answer ODT Insight questions in recent months.

Before the expanded inquiry was announced, they said it was not appropriate to comment while the terms of reference were considered.

After Monday’s announcement, they referred questions to the Royal Commission, saying it was “their place to comment from here on”.

A Royal Commission spokeswoman could not answer questions either, saying only the terms of reference would be reviewed to decide what was included.

Perhaps there is enough scope in the terms to properly investigate abuse by priests.


Deservedly: ‘ODT’ award winner named

Otago Daily Times reporter Chris Morris has been named the newspaper’s 2018 Valpy Rosebowl Trophy winner for his investigative reporting in the ODT series Mark of the Cross.

 

 

Nottingham fails in Supreme Court appeal

Another fail for Dermot Nottingham, this time the Supreme Court declining leave to appeal. This is entirely predictable, as he was seeking leave to appeal a Court of Appeal decision that said they had no jurisdiction to overturn the High Court declining leave to appeal. More wasting of court time.

Costs of $2500 were awarded against Nottingham, but as he has been insolvent for some time (probably years) and was adjudicated bankrupt in September he is unlikely to be able to pay these, on top of the quarter of a million dollars in various court costs he already owes.

Costs are supposed to be a deterrent to vexatious and hopeless litigation but Nottingham continues to file proceedings regardless. I don’t know if he is ignorant of the judicial processes (he shouldn’t be, he has extensive experience with it) or if it is deliberate abuses of processes as part of campaigns of harassment against various people.

From the Supreme Court judgment DERMOT GREGORY NOTTINGHAM v HEMI TAKA, MARTIN RUSSELL HONEY AND STEPHANIE FRANCIS HONEY [2018] NZSC 102 [5 November 2018]

[1] The applicant seeks leave to appeal against a decision of the Court of Appeal in which he was refused leave to appeal against two High Court decisions. Both had their origins in a private prosecution brought by the applicant against the three respondents in the District Court. All charges were dismissed by Judge Paul and he ordered the applicant to pay costs totalling $117,000 under the Costs in Criminal Cases Act 1967.

[2] The applicant sought leave to appeal against Judge Paul’s decision dismissing the charges and the award of costs.

[3] In the first of the High Court decisions, Paul Davison J refused leave to appeal and, in doing so, he addressed directly the costs argument.

[6] In dealing with the challenge to the judgment of Downs J, the Court concluded that there is no right of appeal to the Court of Appeal from such a decision, citing a number of cases decided under similar provisions of the Summary Proceedings Act 1957. In absence of a right of appeal, the Court found it had no jurisdiction to hear a challenge to the judgment of Downs J.

So the court (Court of Appeal) has no jurisdiction to overturn a lower a court (High Court) decision declining leave to appeal a lower court (District Court).

[7] In support of his application for leave to appeal to this Court, in respect of the judgment of Paul Davison J, the applicant repeats the submissions advanced to and rejected by the Court of Appeal.

[8] Although the judgment of Paul Davison J is lengthy, it is perfectly clear that he dealt with the case as an application for leave to appeal under s 296 and not as a substantive appeal. The order he made was to dismiss the application for leave to appeal. For the reasons given by the Court of Appeal, that decision was final. It was not susceptible to challenge in the Court of Appeal.

[9] We are likewise of the view that there was no jurisdiction to challenge in the Court of Appeal the decision by Downs J to refuse an extension of time.

[10] This Court relevantly has jurisdiction to deal only with appeals authorised by Part 6 of the Criminal Procedure Act. The proposed appeal is not within any head of jurisdiction provided under that Act. As to this, we note that s 213 to which we have already referred provides that an appeal court’s decision to give or refuse leave is final unless otherwise expressly provided for. This provision is as applicable to the Supreme Court as it is to the Court of Appeal and makes it clear that we do not have jurisdiction to entertain appeals against decisions of the Court of Appeal to refuse leave.

[11] The application for leave to appeal is dismissed. The applicant is to pay the respondents costs of $2,500.

So that should be the end of the legal line for Nottingham in this lengthy litigation.

Here is the Court of Appeal decision: NOTTINGHAM v DISTRICT COURT AT AUCKLAND [2018] NZCA 75 [28 March 2018]

[3] In March 2014 Mr Nottingham commenced a private prosecution in the Auckland District Court against the second respondents. Following a Judge alone trial extending over 17 sitting days, on 20 June 2016 Judge Paul dismissed all charges, acquitted the second respondents and made an order that the appellant pay costs totalling $117,000. Mr Nottingham’s application for leave to appeal pursuant to s 296 of the Criminal Procedure Act 2011 was declined by Davison J.

[4] The prequel to the criminal proceedings were complaints by both Mr Nottingham and Mr Honey to the Real Estate Agents Authority which culminated in a decision of the Real Estate Agents Disciplinary Tribunal, an appeal to the High Court and a further appeal to this Court.

So this relates to a failed prosecution that began over four and a half years ago.

And that relates to even longer running litigation – it started with a business deal in 2009 that led to:

[4] In early 2011, Mr Dermot Nottingham lodged a complaint on behalf of PBRL with the Real Estate Agents Authority (the REAA) alleging misconduct by Mr Honey…

This is just one of a number of lengthy proceedings Nottingham has been involved in, including other failed private prosecutions, against myself and three others. My case has ‘only’ been going for three and a half years, with leave to appeal costs being declined Nottingham by the Court of Appeal last week – see Nottingham fails again in Court of Appeal, judicial system faltering. The week before: Nottingham fails another attempted appeal.

In July Nottingham was sentenced after being convicted on two breaches of non-publication orders and five charges of criminal harassment. From the sentencing notes:

[16] Variously, the conduct alleged in respect of the five complainants, and differently as between those five complainants, can be characterised as a combination of some or all of the following:

(g) Engaging in or threatening to engage in vexatious litigation.

[24] It was plain to me from the evidence that a number of these courses of conduct started with Mr Nottingham crossing the path of the individual complainant, either in his own capacity or on behalf of another individual, acting as their advocate.

[53] In his written submissions, Mr Nottingham makes it plain that he disagrees with the findings of the jury and challenges many of the rulings of the Court. As is characteristic of his approach to legal proceedings, I anticipate that Mr Nottingham will pursue all avenues of review and appeal and is unlikely ever to accept that what he did was not only unlawful, but reprehensible.

Nottingham has more proceedings pending in the courts.

Nottingham fails again in Court of Appeal, judicial system faltering

Another failed Dermot Nottingham attempt to get leave to appeal from the Court of Appeal, this time against myself and Allied Press Limited.

This follows over three years of two related private prosecution proceedings. Last week Nottingham was also declined leave to appeal in the Court of Appeal versus Lynn Prentice and APN Limited – see Nottingham fails another attempted appeal.

All four parties were originally charged together in July 2015, but the cases against Allied Press and I were moved to Dunedin as they had been incorrectly filed in Auckland.

Prentice and APN went to trial in June 2016 and all charges were dismissed. They were eventually awarded costs. Nottingham unsuccessfully appealed the dismissal and costs in the High Court, and last week failed to get leave to appeal from the Court of Appeal.

The  week after those dismissals at trial Allied Press and I had a hearing seeking dismissal of charges prior to trial. Nottingham had not submitted opposing this. At the hearing Nottingham sought and obtained the Court’s leave to withdraw the charges.

We subsequently applied for costs and these were eventually awarded. In March this year Nottingham lost a High Court appeal against the costs, and has now failed to get leave to appeal from the Court of Appeal. After a hearing before three judges on 9 October 2018 their judgment has just come out.

[5] The private prosecution initiated by Mr Nottingham charged Allied Press Ltd and Mr George with breaching a suppression order by publishing articles on their respective websites in breach of s 211 of the Criminal Procedure Act.

[8] Mr Nottingham’s principal argument in support of his application for leave to appeal is that convictions of Allied Press Ltd and Mr George were inevitable if he had chosen to continue with the prosecution. He submits that Davidson J’s finding that the prosecution was defendable was “inconsistent with the indisputable facts”.

At the time the charges were withdrawn the case was in a hopeless state. The 1000+ page long 3 month+ late initial disclosure was inadequate, a promised expert witness statement was never produced, and Nottingham repeatedly failed to comply with law, court rules and timetables.

Both APN and I had entered not guilty please, legally we were ‘not guilty’ when the charges were withdrawn by the prosecutor, and we both believe we are not guilty in fact and could have defended the charges. Seven judges have agreed that the charges were defendable, but as the cases had never gone to trial could not rule out the possibility that Nottingham could have eventually proved something. he never has.

[9] Mr Nottingham says that the issues of costs against a prosecutor and what published information will breach a suppression order require clarification…

[10] These questions are all fact specific and relate only to this case.

[11] We are of the view that the questions posed are not issues of general principle or of general importance in the administration of the criminal law by the courts.

[12] Nor are we satisfied that a miscarriage of justice may have occurred or may occur unless the appeal is heard. Discontinuation of proceedings will ordinarily have cost consequences. This was not a case where the prosecution would have clearly succeeded but for circumstances unrelated to the merits. We agree with the Judge that the prosecution was defendable. The issues would have included whether the publications contained any suppressed information and whether the requisite mental element was established for charges that are not of strict liability. Further, as the Judge mentioned, if the issue of “hidden computer search tools” had become relevant, then the legal and evidential issues would have been more complex. There were no clear answers to these issues on the untested evidence.

[13] We accordingly decline the application for leave to appeal.

The evidence had never been tested at trial, so despite Nottingham effectively trying to re-litigate the case at four subsequent hearings over costs we remain ‘not guilty’ (and, I believe, not guilty).

Note: there is suppression (Order prohibiting publication of evidence and submissions contained in
this judgment) related to a different prosecution (and conviction), so those details cannot be published at this stage, and the full judgment won’t be published pending the final outcome of the other case.

Prior to the last High Court appeal Nottingham indicated he intended taking the case to both the Court of Appeal and the Supreme Court, so a further legal step is possible. I think this would be futile, and would use up more of the already overstretched court resources.

Nottingham currently has three cases pending before the Supreme Court following other failed appeals – see Case information 2018

Further attempts at appeal would incur further costs. Nottingham has admitted he has been insolvent for some time, has claimed to have debts of about $2 million (about quarter of a million in various court costs awarded against him), and he was adjudicated bankrupt in September – see HONEY v NOTTINGHAM [2018] NZHC 2382 [11 September 2018].

He seems to have had no intention of paying costs, and no ability to pay costs, yet he continues to force people to incur costs through the courts. In an email in 2015 he said that if various intended litigation took ten years ‘he was up for it”.

Nottingham has incurred all the costs but has not been acting alone.

Robert Earle McKinney has been closely involved with the proceedings against us. He arranged for the initial serving of documents (that was funny, I was photographed being served the documents on a Dunedin street). He shared the same email account as Nottingham, which was associated with his company Advantage Advocacy Limited (now in liquidation – see First Liquidators Report). Nottingham was said to be the sole employee of this company, and the company was registered at his address.

Cameron Slater was named as an informant to the prosecution, and was named as an expert witness (but never provided a witness statement). He appeared as a witness in the Prentice/APN trial. See NOTTINGHAM v APN NEWS & MEDIA LTD [2018] NZHC 596 [29 March 2018]:

  • calling a witness who had not been brief, Mr Slater. The detail and nature of this evidence had not been provided to the defence prior to the presentation of the witness to the Court;

Slater has been named by Nottingham as involved in ongoing attempts at litigation against me. He was also associated with the failed Court Order attempt by Marc Spring.

Marc Spring was also involved in serving court documents for Nottingham, and openly associated himself with @LaudaFinem in a campaign of harassment against me, at one stage suggesting I would be ‘fucked over’ as happens at Whale Oil. He has been involved in a number of ways in trying to trash and take down Your NZ. I believe he was also contributor to content (posts and comments under various pseudonyms) at the now taken down laudafinem.com blog. – see from sentencing notes:

“Either Dermot Nottingham is Lauda Finem (in other words, the leading mind of that blog) or he is so intimately related to it that it is proper to conclude that he provided information and draft articles to that blog site knowing and intending that they would be published.”

There is a lot more on Spring’s involvement in various things but that is for another story. Others have also been involved in various ways.

Due to all of this I have learned a lot about how our judicial system works. I don’t think it has coped well with people who use it to attack and use it to try to cause hardship to others, and who repeatedly abuse processes and fail to comply with laws, rules and conventions that lawyers are bound to adhere to.  They have wasted a large amount of court time and resources.

I think that private prosecutions are an important part of our judicial system, as is the right to represent oneself and act as a lay litigant.

But I think that far less leniency for breaches of laws, rules and timetables would make things more fair for the targets of vexatious litigation.

There are apparently strict requirements for filing court submissions according to defined timetables. In theory this allows for orderly and fair processes.  But Nottingham has been allowed far too much leniency, and due to his frequency of litigation he should not get away with the excuse of lay litigant ignorance. Courts have pointed that out.

Nottingham repeatedly ignored requirements. A few examples (from many) from my proceedings.

“At the commencement of criminal proceedings, or as soon as practicable after that time, and in any event not later than the applicable date, the prosecutor must disclose the following information to the defendant.”

“In this section, applicable date means—

(a) the date that is 15 working days after the commencement of criminal proceedings

That means he should have provided disclosure by mid-August 2015. After he failed disclosure was requested by counsel and instructed by the Court. He still failed to disclose, and at one stage said he was deliberately delaying disclosure. He finally served a 9cm think pile of garbage (that has to be all read in case there is something important, not cheap when you are paying a lawyer to do it) in December 2015, three and a half months late.

When we applied for and submitted on costs Nottingham filed his submission late with the court but failed to serve it on us (the Applicants). When just prior to a scheduled hearing we found out he had submitted but not served the Court directed that he serve, but he failed to do that. I had to spend half a day in Court reading through hundreds of pages just in case there was something in it that was important.

Nottingham failed to appear at the costs hearing, but instead emailed a further submission during the hearing. remarkable the Court gave us copies and the Judge ordered a short adjournment so we could read it (a ridiculous situation to put us in). Then when the hearing resumed another submission arrived in court. At least the judge refused to accept that one.

For the Court of Appeal proceedings Nottingham:

  • filed his application seeking leave to appeal out of time
  • failed to file a submission as directed by a judge to give reasons for applying out of time
  • failed to file his submission as Applicant by the due date
  • after being told he had not filed by the court he set his own timetable
  • he finally filed his submission after both respondents had filed our submissions on time
  • two hours prior to the appeal hearing he filed another submission.

How did the Court deal with all of these transgressions? One of the three appeal judges said he two hour prior to hearing submission was ‘unhelpful’.

I made the point in oral submissions that all of these failures impose severe difficulties on the respondents, and also costs for those who have lawyers having to try and deal with the chaos. But that was not noted in the judgment.

I have been severely inconvenienced and disadvantaged through 3+ years of proceedings due to the actions and failures to comply of Nottingham. Lawyers would not get away with any of this (they wouldn’t attempt to get away with it).

While the various judges and courts have had difficulty dealing with a recidivist abuser of processes I believe hey have in effect aided and abetted these abuses by being so lenient with Nottingham time and time again.

If the courts want to reduce the pressure on time and resources they could help themselves by ensuring that litigants at least mostly comply with requirements.

This has been a huge learning curve for me, being my first experience in litigation and the courts. I found out what I was required to do, and did everything as required, on time. I have been severely disadvantaged by the numerous breaches by Nottingham, unchecked by the courts.

What have I got for this? Some costs awarded, with the likelihood that none of that will be paid. And I have got off cheaply compared to others.

The law is largely not an ass, and court staff and judges generally do good jobs under pressure, but the judicial system could be improved with some simple insistences that basic processes are complied with.

Rising signs of hate in the US

Three alarming incidents in the past week in the US – the pipe bombs sent to a number of individuals and companies, two black people shot in a grocery store, and the Pittsburgh synagogue shooting – have raised concerns that hate crime is on the rise.

President Donald Trump has inevitably been included in discussions in reaction to these incidents. It is difficult to judge how much Trump may have encouraged this sort of hate violence, but how he responds may make a difference – and while he has played lip service to outrage and condemnation, his actions continue to be troubling.

This apparent rise in hate crimes, the tip of a large iceberg of online intolerance and hate, is happening on Trump’s watch.

NY Times editorial: The Hate Poisoning America

What is going on in this country? Can’t we be safe in our homes, in our schools, in our most sacred places? Once again, Americans are left to ask each other these sorts of questions, after a gunman burst into the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh on the Jewish Sabbath and opened fire on families in the contemplation of their faith.

The attack came a day after a man was arrested in Florida for mailing pipe bombs to politicians and journalists across the country. In both cases, the suspects had nourished their animus online, on social media platforms where they could easily connect with people who shared their hatreds.

After the attack on Tree of Life, Rabbi Marvin Hier, the founder and dean of Simon Wiesenthal Center, told The Times, “I’m afraid to say that we may be at the beginning of what has happened to Europe, the consistent anti-Semitic attacks.”

Alongside anti-Semitism, anti-black hatred appears to be rising. It has been expressed recently not only in incidents in which white Americans have harassed black Americans for gardening, coming home, swimming, working or campaigning for public office, but in deadly attacks like the one by a bigot who shot two black people at a Kentucky grocery last week, after he tried but failed to enter a black church.

At least some of the hate behind attacks like this is fomented online.

The suspect in the Pittsburgh killings, Robert Bowers, had found a home for his hate on Gab, a new social network that bills itself as a guardian of free speech, unlike somewhat less permissive platforms like Twitter. There his online biography read, “Jews are the children of Satan,” a statement of personal values that he evidently expected to earn him not opprobrium but followers.

Mr. Bowers’s hatred of American Jews was apparently motivated in part by the generosity and empathy many of them have shown for non-Jewish refugees of conflicts worldwide. In their humanity, he found cause to dehumanize them. “It’s the filthy EVIL jews Bringing the Filthy EVIL Muslims into the Country!!” he wrote online.

Gun laws come up again after mass shootings, but little ever seems to change. And guns are just tools of extreme merchants of hate, many of whom build their bravado online.

What can be done? Certainly, common-sense gun safety regulation might make attacks like the one on Tree of Life synagogue less deadly— universal background checks, red-flag laws that take guns away from the mentally unstable, bans on high-capacity weapons like the AR-15 rifle that the alleged killer wielded.

Measures like these would help contend with the hardware of hate. It is far harder to disable the software, the ideas that now spread so readily.

It is difficult to confront online hate. Some of it ferments in protected bubbles.

Leadership that is unequivocal about condemning intolerance and hate would help.

Good speech may not be enough in itself, but that doesn’t mean that American society couldn’t benefit from much more of it today, particularly from its leaders.

So it was reassuring to hear President Trump condemn the attack in Pittsburgh, as he did the pipe bombs. And it was disappointing to see him immediately head back out on the campaign trail, as he did on Saturday, to disparage his opponents and critics all over again.

Until next week’s mid-term elections it seems that hate and division as tools of politics will continue.

It isn’t simply a Trump issue, but as the leader and commander-in-chief of the country he must take some responsibility for the escalations and do more than speak out of both sides of his mouth.

But there are alternate views, like this opinion from Steve Hilton from Fox News who blames it on Barack Obama: Trump and his supporters are being blamed for a climate of rage and hate – but here’s the truth

Predictably, the establishment is blaming President Trump and his supporters for a climate of rage and hate.

But let’s be honest, a lot of Americans have had a lot to be angry about for an awful long time.

This anger we’re seeing, it didn’t start with Donald Trump. I think it goes back at least a decade.

In 2008 you saw the elite bail themselves out while working people paid the price for their recklessness and incompetence.

And you saw a new tone enter our politics.

Reagan, the Bushes, Bill Clinton, Bill Clinton perhaps a bit too much – they weren’t haters. You got the sense they loved everybody.

But then we saw something new. A cultural elitism came in. Condescension. Even contempt.

Remember when then-presidential candidate Barack Obama said on April 6, 2008, “They get bitter, and they cling to guns or religion.”

How about when his wife Michelle said this on February 18, 2008; “For the first time in my adult lifetime, I’m really proud of my country.”

We saw hate and divisiveness — from the top. And remember, from the left, not the right. From the elitists, not the populists.

What he claims is debatable (very much so) but there is one truth that can’t be denied – the current levels of division and hate are happening on Trump’s watch.

Helen Clark and Ruth Dreifuss on decriminalising drugs

Recent coverage of the failure of the ‘war on drugs’ continues on Nation this morning.

Yesterday on Breakfast:

The coalition government has promised a referendum on legalising cannabis, but what about decriminalising all drugs?

The Global Commission on Drug Policy members Helen Clark and former Swiss President Ruth Dreifuss told Jack Tame how doing so would reduce harm and regulate black markets out of existence.

From Newsweek:

The global “war on drugs” is a “spectacular” failure that has led to thousands of murders, public health crises and human rights abuses, a new report showed.

Released on Monday, the report from the International Drug Policy Consortium (IDPC), a global coalition of 170 nongovernmental organizations working on drug policy issues, overviewed the failure of the 10-year global strategy from the United Nations, which intended to eradicate the illicit drug market by next year.

Instead of curbing the problem, “consumption and illegal trafficking of drugs have reached record levels,” Helen Clark, former prime minister of New Zealand and a member of the Global Commission on Drug Policy, wrote in the report’s foreword.

This morning on Newshub Nation:

Emma Jolliff asks former Prime Minister and former President of Switzerland Ruth Dreifuss if decriminalising all drugs could reduce harm, and what New Zealand can learn from other countries.

 

Law on audio and video recordings

This post from June 2017 has had a lot of search hits over the last couple of days in relation to the Jami-Lee Ross recording and threats of releasing more recordings, so worth a re-post:


The Todd Barclay saga, in which the Police decided not to prosecute Barclay for making audio recordings of an employee in his electorate office in Gore (the Police are currently reviewing that decision) has raised the issue of what can and can’t be legally recorded.

Video recordings are legal:

Surveillance video is common in public and in work places.

The Privacy Commission website states that it is “usually unfair to record someone without telling them”.

Can I record someone without telling them?

Whether making an audio or visual recording of someone without telling them will breach the Privacy Act will depend on the circumstances in each case. In particular, it will depend on who is making the recording and why they are making it.

If you are an individual and you are making a recording in relation to you own personal, domestic or household affairs (for instance you’re recording a personal conversation with a friend), there is an exception which says that, generally, the Privacy Act won’t apply to what you do.

However, if you collect, use or disclose personal information in a way which would be highly offensive to a reasonable person, this exception will not apply. In other words, someone could make a complaint about you.

If you are making the recording for any reason, other than your own domestic, personal or household affairs, the general rules about collection of personal information will apply. In particular, it’s usually unfair to record someone without telling them.

You should also keep in mind that there may be other laws which apply apart from the Privacy Act – for instance, recording a private conversation that you’re not involved in will often be a crime.

That seems to be what Barclay was investigated for.

On usually unfair to record someone without telling them:

Can an agency make a video or audio recording of me without telling me?

Generally speaking, an agency must tell you if it is collecting your personal information.

However, there are some cases where an agency could collect your information without telling you. For instance, it might not have to tell you it was collecting your information if this would undermine the agency’s purpose for collecting the information in the first place, or if it would endanger the safety of any individual.

If you believe an agency has collected your information without telling you, we suggest that you contact the agency and ask to speak to their privacy officer to see if you can resolve any concerns you have about this directly.

If you’re not able to resolve your concerns, and you believe you have suffered some sort of harm as a result of the collection of your information, you can make a complaint to us.

Or make a complaint to the Police, as Glenys Dickson did in the Barclay case.

Andrew Geddis comments on this in It’s not the crime, it’s the coverup

…it’s not an offence to record yourself in conversation with others, even if they don’t know you are doing so. Nor is it an offence to record other people without their knowledge if they are not engaged in a “private communication”.

But the allegation against Barclay is that he left a dictaphone running when he wasn’t in his office so as to record what Dickson was saying in conversations with constituents.

Also in Police take another look at Barclay secret recording investigation

Geddis said the alleged breach in law on which Barclay was investigated needed to tick three boxes to be proved.

The first was there needed to be a recording with an “interception device”, as the law phrased. In this case, he said, the “device” was alleged to be a dictaphone.

Then it needed to be proved it was a private conversation – in this case, said to be the electorate office where Dickson worked.

The third element was proving that the recording was made intentionally, he said.

“If you could prove all three elements, the offence carries a jailable offence of up to two years.”

Conviction to the two-year point is the trigger which forces MPs to resign from Parliament.

Steven Price at Media Law Journal (in reference to the Bradley Ambrose case):

It’s a crime to intentionally intercept a private communication using an interception device. A private communication is one that is made under circumstances that may reasonably taken to indicate that any party to it desires it remain private, but:

does not include such a communication occurring in circumstances in which any party ought reasonably to expect that the communication may be intercepted by some other person not having the express or implied consent of any party to do so.

Although a battalion of journalists were about a metre away behind a window, let’s assume that Key and Banks couldn’t reasonably expect it to be overheard, and that the circumstances indicate that both desired their conversation to remain private.

In an electorate office if the conversation was in an open office where others were present and could hear it then it may not be private. But if Dickson was the only person present then it could be private.

The only issue, then, is whether the interception was intentional. On the paper’s account, it was inadvertent. In fact, it says, the cameraman tried to retrieve his recorder before the conversation but was stopped by Key’s security folk, and didn’t know that the recording was even happening. Now, I don’t know anything more than has been reported. But I wonder whether there is room for doubt about whether the cameraman genuinely didn’t know that the conversation was being recorded.

If it could be established that he did know, then he has committed an offence.

Bill English has said (in the now public police statement) “I had a conversation with him regarding Glenys Dickson leaving his office and he said to me that he had recordings of her criticising him”.

Barclay has said “I have read and Mr English’s statement to the police and accept it.”

“Recordings” is plural. It could be difficult claiming that more than one recording was accidental.

We will find out next week what the Police decide to do and whether they re-open the case or not.

More talk on ‘drug use is a health issue’ but where’s the action?

More talk but still a lack of action on drug abuse issues.

Minister of Police Stuart Nash talks some talk on addressing drug problems, but his Government is still failing to walk any meaningful walk on addressing urgent drug abuse issues.

RadioLive: Drug use should be treated ‘as a health issue’ – Stuart Nash

So why the fuck doesn’t the Government take urgent action to do that?

Police Minister Stuart Nash is refusing to say whether he’s for or against ending marijuana prohibition, but appears to be leaning in favour.

“I’m not going to give you a yes or no, because I want to see what this looks like,” he told host Duncan Garner.

“I’ll weigh up the benefits and I’ll vote accordingly.”

But as long as there are sufficient social services in place to deal with the harmful effects of marijuana, Mr Nash appears to be in favour of legalisation.

But the Government seems to be dragging the chain on this – they opposed Chloe Swarbrick’s bill, their own bill is limited to medicinal use of cannabis and they are not exactly rushing on that, and while greens got a promise of a referendum on cannabis law before or at the next election there is no sign of action there.

Drug abuse is already a major health and crime and prison issue. people continue to die, lives continue to be ruined, and all Nash does is parrot ‘drugs should be treated as a health issue’.

“I was incredibly proud of Jacinda Ardern not to sign up to Donald Trump’s new war on drugs,” he added. “We need to treat this as a health issue – the police are doing this, we’re doing this as a society.”

But nowhere enough, and nowhere near urgently enough.

He said the police are already using discretion not to criminalise drug users – even those consuming hard drugs.

“We refuse to treat every single addict out there as a criminal. This is a health issue. An example – Operation Daydream, this is going after the meth dealers and suppliers. Police did that, they rounded them up.

“After that they went to all the addicts and instead of putting them in front of a judge, as they have done in the past, they put them in front of social services to help these people. That’s the sort of society we need to create.”

One approach has had some success. Newsroom: Addiction courts save millions in prison costs

With more than 10,000 people behind bars and total prison costs expected to top $1 billion next year, politicians are desperate for ways to rein in the corrections system.

The problems sometimes seem intractable, the financial and human costs ever-increasing.

But far from the halls of power and policy summits, one approach being employed to stop people offending and going back to prison has had some real success.

Grounded in evidence and criminal justice research, the country’s two Alcohol and Other Drug Treatment (AODT) courts are tasked with handling one of the toughest, and most costly, cohort of offenders: recidivist criminals.

There is a clear pattern in the lives of this cohort. They commit crimes, go to prison, get released, and then start the cycle again.

In the AODT courts, the offenders also have an added layer of complexity – their offending has been clinically assessed as driven by their alcohol and/or drug addiction.

The two Auckland-based pilot courts, set up nearly seven years ago, have shown interesting results.

Great. So why not have more of this?

In an interview with Newsroom, Justice Minister Andrew Little is positive about the AODT courts, but says any expansion will not occur before a final impact evaluation. This is due to be completed next year.

An interim-evaluation took place four years ago, and showed positive progress.

“I have a personal and principled commitment to seeing more of this, but there is a commitment to doing a more formal evaluation of the court,” he says.

“That is underway. Following that, [will be] the basis for making my bid for more resourcing to see more of them.”

Little also alludes to the challenges of pushing for long-term change.

“This is the whole question in the broader criminal justice system. Treasury kind of weighs it every time. There might be greater resources needed at the front-end, but if that means that is resulting in fewer people going to prison, and we are still reducing the reoffending rate significantly and materially, then … that is the right place to put the resources rather than at the far end when it is kind of too late.”

However, for those who understand the improved outcomes achieved through AODT courts, waiting for another evaluation is a tough ask. Feedback from the recent Justice Summit in Wellington included queries around when other parts of New Zealand would have access to AODT courts.

As drink driving researcher Gerald Waters puts it: “I’ve also looked at all offending in New Zealand – 80 percent of crime is alcohol and drug related. It’s obvious that you shouldn’t be having drug court once a week – you should be having it six days a week with one day for normal crime”.

Like may things under the current Government, after making a big deal with what the achieved in their first 100 days – mostly initiating things that would take more time – Andrew Little ‘says any expansion will not occur before a final impact evaluation. This is due to be completed next year.’

In the meantime, drug use will be in part treated as a health issue, but will remain a large criminal and prison issue until they get off their inquiry laden arses and take urgent and comprehensive action.

Jacinda Ardern has promoted her Government as progressive – it may be, but it seems to be snail’s pace progress on things she and he ministers have claimed to be in need of urgent attention. This is very disappointing.

Lundy appeal dismissed – “we are sure of Mr Lundy’s guilt”