Rickards case raises real issues with jury trials in New Zealand
Says it all really. Now there may be some out there who think I should be showing more respect for the judicial process, but Clint Rickards demonstrated no such respect in his comments outside the court where he declared that his best friends are not guility of rape of a woman in Mt Maunganui in 1989.
"They shouldn't be where they are," Mr Rickards said. "Brad Shipton is a good friend. Bob Schollum is a good friend. They are still good friends of mine and always will be."
In New Zealand a jury is not allowed to take previous convictions into account when arriving at a verdict. This was the reason for the suppression orders.
Not surprisingly, requesting a jury trial became a key part in the defence strategy. But in this case I think it ought to be reasonably asked why the Judge did not disallow a jury trial on the basis the previous convictions were so material to the case.
Now it would not be fair for a previous conviction for burglary to be become a consideration in a rape case, but what about when a convicted person is accused of committing a similar crime under remarkably similar circumstances?
I understand the earlier case involving former policemen Brad Shipton and Bob Schollum also involved "group sex" where one of the participants did not give consent.
A friend raised an interesting example when we were discussing this case in the pub on Friday. If a convicted murderer had a quirk of painting the toenails of his victims blue, and another blue toenailed victim was found, should people be more than a little suspicious if his defence team opted for a jury trial, and he/she got off? It defies "common sense" for want of a better word, and this may help explain the public reaction to the verdict in the Rickards case.
I would also love to see some statistics on how many times cops have been found guilty in a jury trial compared to the average of the rest of the population. I suspect these numbers would be rather interesting...