Salient. Victoria University Student Newspaper. Volume 39, No. 1, March 1, 1976
From the Courts
From the Courts
Many lawyers in the Wellington Magistrates court are entering pleas and electing jurisdiction for their clients. This is contrary to the spirit of the Summary Proceedings Act and appears to be done for expediency. Defendants usually leave the court with no idea of the importance the questions put to them by the clerk of the court.
A defendant appearing on a charge which carries a penalty greater than 3 months is asked by the clerk of the court whether he wishes to be dealt in the Magistrates Court or Supreme Court. The defendant is then asked whether he wishes to plead guilty or not guilty.
Recently there has been a tendency for lawyers acting for the defendants to address the magistrate as such, "May it please your worship. Take the charge as read. My client elects Summary jurisdiction and a plea of guilty/not guilty be entered."
The charge is not read out in court and the lawyer is infringing the rights of the individual by making the plea.
A private prosecution alleging assault was heard recently in the No. 2 Wellington Magistrates Court before Mr Kerr S.M.
A young married couple stated they were tenants in a flat owned by one of the defendants.
The wife stated the owner of the flat assaulted her. She said she was 3 months pregnant. The husband added that he landlord and his son assaulted him.
During the hearing the defendant landlord, Mr Ray Donaldson, Raroa Terrace, Linden, stated he had spoken to a Mr R. Steele of the Tenants Protection Assn.
Pointing to an unobtrustive bearded gentlemen at the rear of the court the defendant identified the gentlemen as Mr Steele and said he was a "stirrer". The tenant's counsel said that would be for the magistrate to decide.
The magistrate did not believe the evidence given by the landlord and his son. He convicted both defendants. Mr Ray Donaldson (the landlord) was fined $75 for assaulting the wife. He was fined $30 for assaulting the husband. Mr Ivan Donaldson was find $30 for assaulting the husband.
A young man recently appeared in the Magistrates Court in Lower Hutt charged with overstaying his permit. The accused had arrived from Tonga in 1973 and had overstayed his permit by 18 months. The Labour Department requested the accused be remanded in custody pending deportation. The magistrate asked the accused, who was unrepresented by counsel, whether he wished to say anything regarding being remanded in custody.
In a rare display the accused gave an impassioned plea why he should not be remanded in custody. He stated he had only stayed on in New Zealand in order to pass Post Office examinations to gain qualifications to use back in his own "poor little island". His plea failed and he was remanded in custody. Seldom will an accused say anything in court because of fear and the unfamiliar surroundings and when one does, the court usually goes out of its way to make a joke of the affair.
Loud chanting from the holding room of the Wellington Magistrates Court marked the appearance of six men on charges relating to an incident at Government House recently.
The defendants appeared in the court separately before Mr Wicks S.M. As each defendant entered the courtroom a loud chant came from the holding room. The chant went something like, "What do we want? Justice! What do we get? Fuck All!"
Supporters at the rear of the courtroom gave further encouragement and showed solidarity with the defendants. Defendants asked for a remand on bail without plea. This technique is useful for infuriating the police as it means a defendant usually appears 3-4 times in Court before a sentence can be imposed if subsequently found guilty.
The defendants refused to enter the Jock, turned their backs on the magistrate and refused to recognise the court. These actions merely upset the conventions of the court. The time honoured procedure of possible contempt of court was invoked. Antiquated conventions of the courts should be questioned as to their value in todays society.
In the Wellington Supreme Court recently a young man pleaded not guilty to a charge of rape. Conflicting evidence arose as to whether actual penetration by the accused had occurred. The jury, obviously believing no penetration had occurred, returned a lesser verdict of attempted rape. The prisoner was remanded for sentence.
"Truth" headlined the case as "Attackers pants' fell off - what the cops saw". Such sensationalised headlines which "Truth" thrives upon are not objective court reporting. "Truth" usually has a middle aged woman reporter covering criminal cases in the Supreme Court. Although many types of criminal cases are heard in the Supreme Court at the beginning of each month, the "Truth" reporter has a preponderance to appear at rape and sexual trials.
(These trials, when reported in "Truth" highlight the sensational parts of the case without objective reporting).
V.U.W. Music Society Orientation week Student Concert.
Wednesday, March 3rd, 1pm in the Music Room (H.332).
Music by Schumann, Scarlatti, Pleyel
Free! Free! Free! Also
Annual General Meeting
Wednesday, March 10th, 1pm in the Music Room.