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Salient. Victoria University Students Newspaper. Volume 38 Number 8. 1975

Reply to Greg Milicich

Reply to Greg Milicich


I appreciate Mr. Milicich's letter regarding my article in Salient as it demonstrates some obvious confusion as to the point I was trying to make. I concede that the way in which the article was written could add to the confusion; however I feel that this in no way detracts from the point I was trying to make and wish to take this opportunity to clarify this.

The point is, that because traffic offences are more 'socially acceptable', the people who commit them cover a wider range of society than those who commit less 'socially acceptable' offences and that this is manifest in the dress and manner in which some, but by no means all, defendents react to the court-room situation and the way they are treated compared with more 'serious' offenders. This observation illustrates how the law reinforces social custom (or vicevena), so that the attitude taken by the court would naturally be different for the taking of depositions for a murder trial, I wouldn't dispute that.

Thus I had no intention of saying that there was a clearly marked deliniation between social classes in one court-room from another, merely that there was a tendency in this direction because of the offence involved. It seems somewhat naive to believe that this was the case, the same as it is naive to believe that the column in Salient is an overall view of what happens in courts. That is not to say that it is a biased view, merely a minority view based on real events which don't get expression in other forms of media.

Nor did I say that only traffic cases are heard in Courtroom 2, but it is important to note that the majority of these cases, both defended and undefended, are heard in Courtroom 2 on certain days and it is called the Traffic Court. This, as well as the fact that the traffic laws are enforced by a separate body in N.Z., the Ministry of Transport, helps to reinforce in people's minds the assumption that traffic offences aren't as 'serious' as a 'real crime', so that there are people commiting these offences who wouldn't normally appear in court.

I hope I've clarified your confusion, Mr. Milicich.

Les Knight.