Lyndon Hood - not a lawyer, Lower Hutt

Friday, December 10, 2004

This morning Linda Clark interviewed a logician. Quite a contrast, I know. A bit like those old movies where one guy was fat and the other one was skinny. The punchline is that she conducted what one Jamie Whyte presumably thought was going to be a promo for his book as an adversarial interview. As in, what's the point of rational thought anyway?

Her arguments made no sense and she looked like a fool. But that's hardly news so we'll move on.

It's often interesting to listen to the headlines on the radio evolving hour by hour as the subeditors come to grips with something complicated. Like a legal argument. For a good few bulletins the tidbit of reasoning accompanying news of the Zaoui bail verdict was the court's opinion that transfer to the refugee centre would constitute continued detention. Kind of a peripheral point compared the finding that there was no great peril in letting him go in the meantime. Even, it seems, taking into account whatever it says on that summary of accusations.

One concludes that even the SIS don't expect him to be blowing up any landmarks in the next few months.

The case was decided much like other bail applications - taking into account the risk to society. From a general point of view, the significant ruling was made the other day: that a person waiting for a review of a security risk certificate can in principle be bailed.

I really have heard it suggested, by persons not unmentioned earlier in this post, that these decisions spring from the Supreme Court's supposed ongoing battle with the Government. Perhaps I'm being overly charitable, but personally I'm prepared to assume it's more due to the weight of hundreds of years of legal tradition with respect to habeus corpus and the rights of the accused, an honest interpretation of the law as a whole, and the facts of the case.

If the Government had meant to deny even the possibility of bail, that's sufficiently radical that they should have said. And to my mind, if the law is changed so it does say that, it will be a bad thing. Those hundreds of years of precident came out the way they did for a reason.

I digress.

I don't mean to imply that the media are particularly stupid. It's just that they're no more clever that the other schmucks. Witness the disturbingly successful attempt by defense lawyers to convince juries that if it wasn't planned in advance, it wasn't murder. Folks, the relevant point according to the law isn't whether it was premeditated, it's whether it was deliberate. And that includes deliberately stabbing somebody lots of times, even if you didn't particularly mean to kill them.

Its like that Jamie Whyte guy said: sense isn't all that common.

Perhaps I should get myself an ivory tower.

But I wouldn't want to slaughter all those elephants.