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Thursday, January 04, 2007

Pleasing Polls

According to David Farrar at KiwiBlog

A huge majority of respondents to a Herald digi-poll support juries knowing the criminal history of defendents. A whopping 68% support juries knowing such history, with only 28% against.

The majority here is correct. Past patterns are the best indicators of future behaviour, so "patterns based evidence" should be entirely acceptable in a court of law.

As David says;

The concern with having juries know a defendent's criminal history is that they may judge them not on the facts of the current case, but based on their previous behaviour.

The reality is that are defendant's past convictions are "facts of the case". They tell the jury, which make decisions on the balance of probabilities, just what the person standing before them is known to be capable of.

Also pleasing was the fact that;

Only 40% support ending the right of silence...

Meaning 60% realise that to require one to give testimony against oneself is a sure recipe for increased police thuggery and coercion.

Just shows that a lot of Kiwis understand that certain legal principles are essential to preserving our liberty.


Blogger NateDawg said...

If you take prior criminal history into account during a trial, there will never be a fair trial for a prior-convict. It completely destroys the idea of "being innocent until proven guilty".

Prior crimes should definitely be considered when it comes to sentencing, however. I've always been a big fan of California's "Three Strikes" law, where a third violent crime conviction of the same person automatically nets the criminal a life sentence.

Even pimps, murderers, and thieves deserve a fair chance to defend themselves. Once they're convicted however, it should be open season.

7:02 PM  
Blogger Trevor Loudon said...

Thanks Nate.

The debate has been influenced in this country, by the acquittal of several defendants in a gang rape case, who were actually all serving sentences at the time for a similar offence.

The jury was not told this,what I would consider to be, highly relevant information.

I am no fan of making the state's work easy, but I think a jury should have access to ALL information.

Let the jury decide what is relevant.

I trust juries more than i trust lawyers and judges.

10:09 PM  

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