Kylee Guy fights right to silence
Mon, 09 Jul 2012 6:07p.m.
By Adam Ray
Scott Guy's widow has told the Sensible Sentencing Trust she believes the man accused of killing her husband should have been forced to take the stand.
Trust spokesman Garth McVicar says Kylee Guy supports calls for a review of the law that allowed her brother-in-law Ewen Macdonald to stay silent during his trial.
The only evidence the jury heard from Ewen Macdonald was a replay of his police interview.
Like many defendants, he exercised the long-held right to silence. Because it is a right, Justice Simon France told the jury he couldn't be judged on it.
“That means you cannot give any significance at all to the fact that he did not testify,” says Justice France.
While Macdonald's silence may be supported by law, it's facing public opposition. The Sensible Sentencing Trust says courts are more interested in principle, rather than the truth.
“Our system is bogged down in the middle ages,” says Mr McVicar. “The justice system hasn't evolved to the point where it's about truth and justice.”
Mr McVicar says Kylee Guy wants the right to silence re-examined too. He says we should look at changes in English courts, where juries can draw inferences from a defendant's silence.
“We believe this case is the tipping point that's going to instigate change further on.”
One law expert says the Law Commission is already looking at clearer rules around this.
“So that it is transparent and clear to an accused person the risk they might run if they exercise the right to silence,” says Victoria University Law School associate professor Elisabeth Mcdonald.
The Prime Minister says the right to silence is a fundamental right that the Government is not interested in changing.
If he were, it would take serious political willpower because the right to silence is enshrined in the Bill of Rights and the Evidence Act.
9/07/2012 8:02:52 p.m.
New Zealand's Courts have long been lost in legalise. They lost the application of Justice years ago, if they ever had it at all. This is reflected in both the decision making and the penalties imposed. The problem is, there will always be the likes of the Prime Minister who does not understand what is being argued.
Police should also be allowed to detain for a set period for and whilst questioning - this could be reviewed by Justices of the Peace and Solicitors.
9/07/2012 7:06:11 p.m.
Removing any legal right is something that should never be done lightly, let alone in the heat of the moment after a case such as this. I don't know what Garth McVicar is thinking when he says we are bogged down in the middle ages. Back then Ewen MacDonald would have been stretched on a rack until he talked or broke. One of the problems with torture however, is that it doesn't work for getting the truth. It only ends when the torturer hears something he wants to hear.
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