Collins rejects Simon Power reforms

Justice Minister Judith Collins

Justice Minister Judith Collins is starting to overturn some of the policy reforms made by her predecessor, Simon Power.

Speaking on TV3’s The Nation programme at the weekend, Miss Collins said she was not in favour of proceeding with an inquisitorial trial system for sex offences and cases involving children.

Mr Power told The Nation last year he had hoped to have that introduced before he left Parliament.

But Miss Collins said she believed you couldn’t take a common law system like our adversarial system, and then take on and put on parts of a civil system or an inquisitorial system.

“You either have one or the other, otherwise great injustices will occur.”

And she said she was not convinced the current investigation into minimum pricing for alcohol move to introducing it.

Mr Power had ordered that study.

Alcohol is our legal drug, our legal social drug,” she said. “We use it all the way through society.

“But it's important to understand that actually the vast majority of New Zealanders are quite happy to have a glass of wine.”

And she also rejected two proposals from victims’ rights advocates that defendants be compelled to give evidence and that juries such as in the recent Scott Guy murder case not have evidence suppressed.

“If, for instance, the jury had known about the appalling attacks on those little calves, I doubt whether any jury would say well actually I can now look at that man and give him a fair hearing,” she said.

“I think that would be very hard, and I think the judge made the right decision.

“ It's very hard on people, but we have to have a system that actually says it is better for a guilty person – of course, I'm not speaking about him [MacDonald], in particular – a guilty person to go free than for an innocent person to be wrongly convicted and imprisoned.”

But she was in favour of having a review of TV coverage of courts.

“I'm not comfortable with the sensationalisation of a few moments,” she said.

“You know we saw, for instance, in that case where cameras were absolutely trained not only on the accused, but also on his wife – on the widow of Scott Guy – that it was sensationalised to the extent that it was almost like reality television.

“And I don’t think that does justice any good.”

However she was coy when asked about her own political ambitions.

“I didn’t come in here [Parliament] to eat my lunch,” she said.

Watch the full interview here.

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15 Comments & Questions

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after the mess she left at acc she should consider herself lucky to even get lunch

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Mrs Collins should indeed not come back late from a (long) lunch. She's got too much to fix. What is fair? Someone being portrayed as Mr INNOCENT in court, while earlier events clearly show that he appeared to being attracted to killing living beings, and in a cruel way. It is not fair to withhold this information from a jury. 'Beyond reasonable doubt' also includes an assessment of someones character and this may tip the balance. I wonder whether Mrs Collins, after one of her short lunches, arranged a check on any possible conflict of interest between the ACC legal team and the judiciary? Her office is strong on avoiding any possible conflict of interest with regards to questions from her electorate and delegates those to the Associate Minister, but fails to follow up on a proper response. Unless it is considered acceptable to let someone wait for an answer for more than two months.

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What needs fixing is the "appointed for life judges"Even rugby referees are subject to review.
Also the weak sentencing.How can you give 14 years for a brutal calculated murder.Somehow,once you get in to parliament,you become weak and evasive.Why is this?

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I applaud everything Collins says above. A ray of hope.

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Simon Power had much more integrity and common sense than Crusher Collins.

Simon Power has been a huge loss to the national government - as has Katherine Rich.

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Simon Power was a wrecking ball for the justice system that NZ will take years to recover from. Basically he had no idea about the freedoms granted to society, over centuries, by the basics of our common law heritage.

Notably, Mr. Power now has a nice job with the Westpac Bank, that does very well thank you exporting billions in profits and taking care of the IRD's business to boot.

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booze is a legal drugwell then i suggest she reads what happens to a lot of people who take this legal drug and talks to the victims of this legal drug.

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Don't ban alcohol, just ban the addicts - if they haven't got the sense to ban themselves.

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Simon Power's ability to get things done far exceeded his ability to judge what ought to be done. Power was weak-minded as he showed in meekly succumbing to the TV-induced stupidity of abolishing the provocation defence.

Collins is exceeding my expectation of her. Her judgment on the above matters is sound.

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smoking will end up being banned while they will allow alcahol free reign to cause mayhem in our communties.

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People cause mayhem, not alcohol. Here's a clue to ponder: alcohol has been around for several thousand years.

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Judith Collins: “I think that would be very hard, and I think the judge made the right decision."

The judge made a mistake in suppressing the information; moreso, when he allowed disclosure of Mcdonald's past acts of malicious damage against the Guys. The jury needed to know of the past crimes when weighing up the balance of probabilities as to whether Mcdonald was capable of committing the murder of Scott Guy. The crimes were hatched by way of stealth and driven by pathological vengeance. The jury had a right to know as to the type of character Mcdonald was, and his capacity for naked retribution.

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Learn the difference between the criminal and civil standards of proof. Thank God you weren't on the jury.

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Taxpayers who fund the system and pay Ms Collins’ wages are entitled to ask her: “Why are you opposed to an inquisitorial system?”

The French inquisitorial system does not conceal evidence; judges trained as judges and on a fixed wage have no incentive to spin the process out. Most hearings take a day or so; the innocent are rarely charged, let alone convicted; 95% of guilty defendants are convicted.

The adversary system conceals evidence; judges are not trained as judges; lawyers trained in sophistry – trick questions, false arguments etc - are in charge of evidence and have an incentive to spin the process out; trials can take months. At least 1% of people in prison are innocent; more than 50% of guilty defendants get off.

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So you're happy for more innocent people to be in jail if it means we reduce the number of guilty people getting off? glad we haven't got capital punishment in that case & I would guess you might feel diff if you were one of the innocents in jail...

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