Miscarriage of justice | The Jackal

4 Jun 2012

Miscarriage of justice

Yesterday, the NZ Herald reported:

The would-be juror - who cannot be identified - made statements about the trial jury in an online blog soon after his jury experience.

In his posted comments, he said the people who remained in the jury selection room after he was excused were "overwhelmingly middle-class white women". He claimed some in the room had already said Tame Iti "scared" them.

"One of the jurors asked to be excluded because she was convinced he was guilty by how he looked," the blogger said. "She was refused her request to leave and heard the case. Another guy asked to be excluded because he thought the whole exercise was a waste of taxpayer money and resources and he was excluded. How does that work?"

Clearly the juror who thought Tame Iti was guilty because of the way he looked should have been excused on the grounds that they were not impartial. Judging somebody by the way they look is bad enough, but this appears to be a case of the jury being stacked against the defendants to ensure guilty verdicts, which is completely unacceptable.

Unless there are grounds for dismissal from jury duty based on somebodies occupation, business, state of health, physical disability, family commitments or other personal circumstances, one of the lawyers involved in the case needs to raise the issue of impartiality. But even if this does not occur, the selection process should have ruled out people with obvious bias.

The fact that they were not is a clear miscarriage of justice, brought about by an unfair jury selection process. Hopefully the appeal judge will consider jury bias leading to wrongful convictions for trumped-up firearms charges... and dismiss them outright.