Panel debates right to silence
Sat, 21 Jul 2012 6:21p.m.
By Charlotte Shipman
Key players in the justice system have put forward what they see as its biggest failings.
The panel is called the “justice hot tub”, and it's the debate over the right to silence that has some of the group's founding members steaming.
Every witness in a trial swears to tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth.
On The Nation, defence lawyer Greg King weighed in on the debate about whether "the truth" would be revealed more often if alleged criminals were forced to give evidence in their defence, under oath.
“Where this is flawed is there's no such thing as a witch sniffer,” says Mr King. “There's no one in the world who can look at a person and know that they are lying.”
Earlier this month, Mr King's client Ewen Macdonald was acquitted of murdering his brother-in-law Scott Guy. He maintained his right to silence by not giving evidence during the trial.
He had, however, spoken to police and admitted other crimes.
“There was nothing he could add to what he had said in 40 hours of police interviews, all of which the jury saw,” says Macdonald’s lawyer.
Gil Elliot's daughter Sophie was brutally murdered by another of Mr King's client's, Clayton Weatherston in 2008.
He believes the justice system lacks transparency by allowing people like Macdonald to remain silent at trial.
“What more might he have revealed if he was cross examined in court?” asks Mr Elliot.
Speaking at a public debate last night, Mr King welcomed the scrutiny of the current law, but cautioned a change may not do the innocent any favours.
“There are a lot of innocent people who could not acquit themselves well, and there are a lot of bloody guilty people who can acquit themselves extremely well,” he says.
“They can con their socks off. It's an occupational skill they are very good at it. So is that what we are going to have? The best liar wins? We do! That doesn't happen in court.”
Mr King admits there is not one rule for all.
You don't have the right to silence if you're being investigated for benefit fraud, ACC fraud or under investigation by the Serious Fraud Office. In those cases, you have to answer questions and supply documents, even if they're incriminating.
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21/07/2012 11:29:16 p.m.
"the best liar wins" yes we can see that Mr king. the best liar represented by the best liar won a murder case. hope you sleep well at night.
remember karma. what goes around.....
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