Let him speak your honour

You wake up – hearing a crash as the front door to your house is battered down. Shouts and bangs startle you out of bed as police fan out and run through your house. You leap out of bed, only to be forced to the ground by the policeman entering your room. You stay still – not knowing what is going on, but unwilling to be shot during this nightmare.

You are under arrest – for murder.

Maybe you did it.

Maybe you didn’t.

Regardless of your guilt, in our enlightened society you have the right to a trial, the right to be judged by a jury of your peers and the presumption of innocence until the jury says otherwise.

You have the right to present your own case, the right of cross examination and the right to testify in your own defense.

You have the right to tell your side of the story – and tell it in the manner that puts you in the best light.

This right is not bestowed on the crown prosecutors and police, who have to put their case and then listen to yours, and certainly not on the media, who can report the facts but don’t get to decide.

In the court a jury will decide your fate. Not the police that break down your door, nor a corrupt politician that put them there, nor a neighbour with a grudge, the media, you, a fistfull of dollars nor anything else. A jury decides and we abide by their decision.

So I will fight like hell to defend Clayton Weatherston‘s attempts to try to reduce his murder charge to manslaughter. I will defend his taking the stand and saying horrible things about the people involved.

I’ll do that because one day they could be knocking on my door – and I will want the right to be able to put my case and prove my innocence. I would trust that I have a fair chance of putting my case, and that the jury is full of people that can reason, discuss and consider – and avoid making a hasty decision.

It’s been a horrible process for the family of the Weatherston’s victim, and a lurid spectacle for all watching. The media don’t help the family by broadcasting the filth across the land, but they are only doing their job it seems.

But give the guy his day in court, and now that he has been found guilty lock him up, but give him the right of appeal to ensure the process is fair.

If we want a decent society we must treat even our most least deserving citizens with respect.

About Lance Wiggs

@lancewiggs
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8 Responses to Let him speak your honour

  1. Ben says:

    I absolutely agree. I was once as a youngster dragged into serious question by a dickhead colleague who unbeknownst to all of us was knee deep in fraud, and trying to blame us. Took weeks on end before all was clear, and those who he tried to blame got the full brunt of accusations and what went with it in the meantime, and saw first hand how horrible it is to be blamed for something you didn’t do. I remember then thinking how horrible it would be to not be able to say my piece.

    That said, he’s had his opportunity and now he’ll get what’s coming to him. I also absolutely can see how the process was tortuous for the family and friends.

    It’s a tough one. Let’s not start thinking back to the Bain debarcle…

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  2. I don’t really have anything of note to add because I think your post said it all, and said it well.
    I wholeheartedly agree, and it constantly amazes me that people don’t grasp the importance of a robust defence.

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  3. Anthea says:

    I feel uncomfortable about the possiblity of the removal of provaction as a defence, as in some circumstances I can see how it could be an appropriate defence.

    While killing another is not something to be condoned, it is very easy to make judgments about the rightness or wrongness of other people’s actions based on what you think you know.

    In reality you cannot possibly know what you would do in a particular situation until you are actually in it yourself.

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  4. Ben Kepes says:

    Lance… bollocks. You don’t have a right to the presumption of innocence if you already admit your guilt.

    Is your post one about the defence of provocation or one about the right to due process – they are two seperate issues…

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    • Lance Wiggs says:

      Both It’s about the right to defend yourself however you see fit. It may not be effective, but he had the right to try the defense of provocation, and he also has the right to due process. He didn’t admit guilt to the greater charge.

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    • If you’re talking about Weatherston he admitted being guilty of manslaughter, but was charged with murder, to which he pled not guilty.

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  5. Ben Kepes says:

    But his entire defence was supporting his claim of manslaughter rather than defending the charge of murder. It is this very disconnect that is the reason to abolish the defence…

    And God but wasn’t he a slimy little shite…

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    • But while the law is in place that is an entirely valid defence, and I don’t personally see anything in the Weatherston case that of itself points to a need to change the laws regarding a provocation defense – after all he was found guilty, and I would hate to see such an important law change made due to kneejerk reactions to this case.

      If anything it’s cases such as the Ferdinand Ambach case that give far greater support to the calls to change the law, but interestingly there wasn’t so much of an outcry after that verdict.

      I just hope that any change is made after serious consideration, rather than “mood of the nation” watching.

      Plus if being a slimy little shite was a crime we’d have a truly serious prison overcrowding problem. :)

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