Friday, January 28, 2011

Stressed out Judge?

Judge Tony Adeane, a district court judge who works in Hawke's Bay and Gisborne courts looks like he's reaching the end of his tether, and has been in the news a few times over the last couple of weeks.

Two weeks back the lawyers for 2 accused of aggravated assult on a policeman  scheduled a bail hearing then said they wanted a delay so they could apply later. Adeane is reported as saying he would not accept court proceedings "sitting in limbo"" and remanded the accused in custody the application.

Eight days ago he was reported  as jailing a man for contempt after he shouted abuse from the public gallery of the court.

Today there are two reports about him, presumably from yesterday. In the first, he is reported as saying "Taggers should expect to be sent to jail" while sentencing a tagger to community service while in the second he supposedly said "Home detention does not work as a deterrent in Hawkes Bay [...] It has not been the experience of the District Court in Hawkes Bay that home detention truly is an equivalent of prison - it doesn't have the same deterrent effect and most offenders realise that" while sentencing a recidivist shoplifting gang member to home detention.

The first two cases suggest the actions of a man who has been pushed to the point where he is starting to experience work place stress and is letting his more difficult "customers" know that he has had enough of their antics. You have to wonder why his words in the other two cases don't match his actions, ¿Que? presumes that sentencing guidelines are forcing him to issue sentences he recognises as futile and inadequate.

¿Que?'s position is that our society is at the mercy of career criminals because bad behaviour is permitted to ratchet up into criminal behaviour with no effective sanction until a person with dozens or hundreds of convictions finally cripples or kills an innocent person. It seems it isn't only the public who are victims of this process, Judge Adeanes' comments and actions makes ¿Que? think that even judges are victims of the New Zealand cirque d'justice .

The failure of community sentencing is nothing new, nor a particularly New Zealand issue; they have similar problems in England as this two year old report from the BBC shows
Community penalties 'laughed at': "One officer said: 'I know prisons are full, but they're full with the wrong people. We need to send out the message that if you've got a suspended sentence and you breach it, you go to prison.'"

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