Thursday, September 04, 2008

Dispatches from Court Day 3 - Operation 8 Depositions Hearing

The charges against the last four defendants were read on Wednesday morning, and only took a few hours.

The first good news of a day was that the crown agreed to a variation of bail that the crown agreed to. For the duration of the hearing, the defendants don’t need to report to the police station and they will be able to associate during the trial.

All of which is just common sense, as defedents are seeing each other every day in court, but it is a victory nonetheless. The non-association orders are causing real pain and hardship for the defendants some of whom are friends, whanau and comrades. Even for those that didn’t know each other the order is making it very difficult to organise their defence. That the crown is willing to drop the non-association orders for a month demonstrates that the orders are in fact there to punish the defendants. Under the Bail Act the only justifications for bail conditions are to ensure that defendants attend court, to prevent them tampering with evidence or witnesses and to prevent offending while on bail. If the defendents associate in September without it resulting in an 18 person crime spree, then it seems ridiculous for the crown to argue that the non-association orders must continue to prevent offending while on bail.

One major issue for the defence has been around translation. The judge has congratulated himself several times for allowing the charges to be read in te reo (or as he said in a slightly grumpy voice “in Maori, which is how it is referred to in the Maori language Act”). This is going to be an on-going issue as many police witnesses are going to attempt introduce Maori translations of terms that are under dispute. When discussing this Annette Sykes “Aaron Pascoe is going to introduce evidence of translations and I don’t know whether he is fluent in Te Reo.” Those of us in the peanut gallery giggled as we suspected he wasn't.

This was followed by lengthy arguments about whether the media will be able to publish the evidence in the depositions hearing. All the arguments about this were suppressed, and the arguments took up most of the morning, and the early afternoon. The judge then ruled that all evidence in the depositions hearing will be suppressed.

Unlike the arguments, his decision was not suppressed. The defence are going to argue that some of the evidence the crown has is inadmissable. If the media reported on the evidence and it was later ruled inadmissable then it would prejudice a potential jury. There was some discussion of only suppressing certain evidence, but this would have been very difficult for the defence logistically. This was a big win for the defence (and a loss by Aaron Pascoe, head of operation 8, because he was hanging out for the trial by soundbyte).

I will uphold this suppression order in these dispatches. So they will probably get shorter and more about the random anecdotes.

Then, just the crown were about to call Aaron Pascoe, and the depositions hearing was going to finally begin, the defence lawyers pointed out that they hadn’t had time to read his brief, and at 3pm the court was adjourned for another day.

It was a good day for the defence. With the bail conditions and suppression of evidence making things much easier for the defendants. But the depositions hearing hasn’t even begun yet – the struggle continues.

1 comment:

  1. Anonymous9:37 pm

    Arohanui, Maia.

    Kia kaha, & keep writing! Highlight of my day, just now, to find another post from you.

    - anarkaytie