Criticism of Ellis decision

October 15th, 2009 at 2:00 pm by David Farrar

The Press reports:

The decision was surprising given that Attorney-General and Police Minister had signed a 2003 petition calling for a commission of inquiry, he said.

As did many professors of law.

Rich said the decision was “sadly predictable”.

“It’s interesting we’re spending millions on a Supreme Court building but still directing people to the Privy Council, which I doubt will be able to access because of the expense,” she said.

Ouch.

“In the court of public opinion, Peter Ellis has already been pardoned.”

On most controversial cases, there are different views on guilt vs innocence. The Ellis case is remarkable in the huge number of people who view his convictions as unsafe. I don’t think I know anyone at all who thinks the convictions should stand.

The case was a fundamental demonstration of the justice system failing to correct itself, she said. “Every country has found a way to deal with those injustices.”

And this is where I think the Minister made the wrong decision.  Of course the officials were always going to have dozens of reasons to say don’t upset the status quo. But the reason we have a Minister in charge, not officials, is for the ability to look at the wider picture.

Brash said he was surprised at the decision because the request was presented with such strong arguments and the 2003 petition had been signed by major figures.

“The New Zealand justice system has let Peter Ellis down and it should have been New Zealand that sorted it out.”

Had he won the 2005 general election, a commission of inquiry would have been ordered, he said.

I really recommend people interested in this case read the Lynley Hood book. If you do you will, like , be convinced that the current convictions are very unsafe.

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30 Responses to “Criticism of Ellis decision”

  1. ernesto (257 comments) says:

    Finlayson should decide that this matter is of such critical importance to the maintainence of a credible justice system that it should not be delegated to the Solicitor-General to prosecute the Privy Council appeal. Finlayson QC should represent the Crown at the Privy Council where he could acknowledge the shortcomings in process that failed Mr Ellis before the Privy Council in the same way he did when he signed the petition.

    Or sack Power and replace him with Finlayson QC who has said publicly that he is prepared to rely on his own professional opinion where it is in conflict with that of his own legal advisers’.

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  2. Brian Smaller (4,026 comments) says:

    I don’t think I know anyone at all who thinks the convictions should stand.

    Except for perhaps all those parents who got $10K lump sums from ACC for their kid’s ‘abuse’. More so the ones that claimed $10K for each instance of the said ‘abuse’.

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  3. davidp (3,557 comments) says:

    The evidence of Ellis’s innocence is overwhelming. The case doesn’t need further investigation. Just pardon him. Now! Pay him reasonable compensation. Then hold an inquiry to ensure that an injustice this blatant never happens again.

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  4. sean14 (62 comments) says:

    Hood’s book was a wonderful piece of meticulous research. Ellis was lynched.

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  5. Ed Snack (1,794 comments) says:

    Brian, the children WERE abused, just that it was by the Psychologists and their interrogators, not by Ellis.

    I too find this decision sadly predictable. Power should grow a pair and change his mind.

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  6. Lipo (229 comments) says:

    It is just not Power that should grow a pair. It should be all the government MPs.
    But sadly it seems this Key led government doesn’t seem to have anything between the legs.
    My suspicion is that the all got cut off and glued to all the Lesbo’s in the previous government. At least some of them had balls.

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  7. grumpy (249 comments) says:

    Since this decision came out, I have read a lot about this case.

    The crux seems to be the activities of Val Sim.

    Another tack may be to press for an inquiry into her actions or even a private proscecution for perverting the course of justice?

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  8. Philonz (91 comments) says:

    “In the court of public opinion, Peter Ellis has already been pardoned.”

    We need to be careful that we don’t encourage pardon by poll. it seem that there has been a miscarriage of justice and for the sake of our justice system it needs to be solved in the courts. If the courts fail to do this (which it seems they have) then the minister must act to review where the courts went wrong and make changes accordingly.

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  9. grumpy (249 comments) says:

    Read this and wonder why.

    http://www.victoria.ac.nz/ipnz/news/docs/In%20search%20of%20truth%20-%2012%20Jan%202008%20-%20Phil%20Taylor.pdf

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  10. grumpy (249 comments) says:

    And again about Val Sim. Seems she is nothing but a Labour hack. Note the criticism from Findlayson – what chance of her being reappointed now?

    http://www.nbr.co.nz/article/crony-watch-update

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  11. trout (919 comments) says:

    A gutless decision. The legal establishment has a view that reversing injustices like this undermines the system. So Peter Ellis is sacrificed. At least Muldoon had the balls to stand up to the judges and pardon Thomas. In his case 2 juries could not bring themselves to confront the fact that the police planted evidence. Some years ago I was on a jury in a child abuse trial (the poor bugger in the dock was being set up) and the Judge in summing up made very, very clear that the psychologist assisting the prosecution was a major player in the Ellis trial. By implication he was telling us she had no credibility.

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  12. F E Smith (3,314 comments) says:

    Trout, it is not the legal establishment that has the problem, it is the Ministry of Justice. Much of the defence bar and legal academia are behind calls for an inquiry.

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  13. GPT1 (2,103 comments) says:

    If Peter Ellis is guilty then it is a coincidence. In all the information I have seen there is nothing to suggest that was a safe conviction.

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  14. poneke (280 comments) says:

    If Peter Ellis is guilty then it is a coincidence.

    There were no crimes whatsoever at the Civic for anyone to have been guilty of. The entire case was a concocted fantasy.

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  15. peterwn (3,211 comments) says:

    It is in the Government’s power to allow the Supreme Court to hear these older appeals. The main problem is that some of the judges have bee involved in the cases before, hence making it difficult to get a ‘clean’ bench of five.

    Personally an appeal there woud seem a waste of time.

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  16. dad4justice (7,969 comments) says:

    The so called professionals involved in obtaining a totally unfair conviction are responsible for causing so much heartbreak. Everybody around the traps knows that Ellis was stitched up by a bent horny copper and a demented man hating psycho babble creep. Peter B says Simon P is a dropkick eunuch bent lawyer.The lack of accountability for a steam roll we are right and we never get wrong justice system allows judges to sleep at night. The bullshit about the judicial and legislative having separate rolls and being guided by impartiality is a total rort. Oh by the way, the lawyer who told me about Ellis’s innocence is now a judge Oooops sorry Mr. Power Wimpster. Grow some balls National ! Warning Mr Brownlee and co.

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  17. poneke (280 comments) says:

    the lawyer who told me about Ellis’s innocence is now a judge

    I personally know the Christchurch judge you are describing, but many, many other judges I have spoken to, and many, many senior police officers even, accept this was a crock of shit.

    As various people have noted, the problem here is the Justice officials who have fought hard and successfully for a decade to stop this case being scrutinised in any meaningful way. They and the successive ministers of justice, right back to Doug Graham, who have buckled before those fanatical officials.

    I tackled Doug Graham about this when he was minister and he said politicians could not intervene in a case in any way at all. I said “but what about Muldoon and Thomas?” His reply: “That was a disgrace!” (meaning, Muldoon’s pardon and a commission of inquiry were a disgrace, not Thomas being framed)

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  18. Graeme Edgeler (3,276 comments) says:

    It is in the Government’s power to allow the Supreme Court to hear these older appeals.

    I’m pretty sure it isn’t.

    It’s only with the consent of all parties to an appeal that this can happen.

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  19. dad4justice (7,969 comments) says:

    So right poneke. The opening up of the huge can of worms would have the moronic public crying for blood from a very corrupt justice system. Many lawyer friends have told me it’s so bad they are walking away from the sick judicial system before it does their heads in.I can provide Mr Power with a few examples.

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  20. Rex Widerstrom (5,328 comments) says:

    Philonz makes a very important point above. In our outpouring of sympathy for Ellis we must be carefult not to support a pardon or other course of action which would make the whole issue “go away”.

    Much as I share other commenters’ deep and abiding sympathy for all that Ellis has been through, nothing is going to alter that. The most important factor now id to ensure that such a perversion of the very concept of “justice” can never occur again and that anyone found to have acted against Ellis in malice (no pun intended) be brought before the courts themselves.

    I think it was FE Smith yesterday who made a comment along the lines that “no prosecutorial agency has ever pursued a person they consider to later be innocent” (or words to that effect). That includes the Police.

    The entire system will never admit a mistake, and if you happen to beat them in a court, look out – you “got away with it” and efforts to arrest and convict you of something else – anything else – will be redoubled.

    At present we have very limited means, as citizens, to bring an action for malfeasance in public office and if we do, the entire system will close ranks against us.

    As such we must reply on our elected officials to protect us. IMHO, standing between the might of the state and an ordinary citizen is the most basic and necessary duty of anyone elected to represent the people.

    If Power cannot fulfil this duty, he should resign forthwith.

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  21. big bruv (13,555 comments) says:

    Power, Tolley, Smith, English, Lee, …..ain’t it interesting that some of the people we had high hopes for have shown they are hopelessly out of their depth when the heat goes on.

    Some of these fools are almost as bad as the Labour front bench.

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  22. kiwicraig (52 comments) says:

    Just another example of why we need a Criminal Cases Review Commission, as advocated so eloquently by Sir Thomas Thorp, Nigel Hampton QC and many others, to address such potential miscarriages of justice from a holistic perspective – the current system, relying on appelate courts and/or political pardons, is woefully inadequate. The courts are restricted to certain legal matters, and just because a case doesn’t fall within those doesn’t mean there was no miscarriage; and any political redress (unsurprisingly) will always be decided more on the basis of political expediency than the reality of the situation, e.g the length of time it took David Dougherty to get any compensation from Graham et al, even after he was exonerated in court.

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  23. kiwicraig (52 comments) says:

    [i]“I think it was FE Smith yesterday who made a comment along the lines that “no prosecutorial agency has ever pursued a person they consider to later be innocent” (or words to that effect). That includes the Police.”[/i]

    Unfortunately this is so true. I have several friends/acquaintances in the Police, and as great, hardworking, and concientious as many of them and their colleagues are – they rarely if ever think they’ve got the wrong person…

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  24. Richard C (19 comments) says:

    Mr Power and Ministry of Justice are clearly blind to the consideration that not resolving this case undermines public confidence in the justice system rather than bolster it. It is clear the courts have not been able to deal with the case. The Privy Council is unlikely to be any different to the court action here to date, the reason being that the courts have simply refused, or have been unable, to examine the entire ambit of the case at any one time. That is why the case is still news eighteen years after it began.

    I disagree with author Lynley Hood in that primarily the case has to be resolved because of the social havoc it caused to NZ and to those involved. This case needs to be resolved by a Commission of Inquiry because the New Zealand public are owed an explanation as to why our judicial system has repeatedly failed. Lest it be repeated.

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  25. Chuck Bird (4,763 comments) says:

    “Trout, it is not the legal establishment that has the problem, it is the Ministry of Justice”

    F E Smith. Is it the problem the Ministry of Justice or the the Minister of Justice?

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  26. F E Smith (3,314 comments) says:

    My opinion is that it is primarily it is the Ministry’s fault, Chuck. However, Alex Masterly commented yesterday on Power being subject of ‘system capture, or what Yes, Minister describes as ‘going native’. The Ministry and Crown Law seem to be very much opposed to the idea of an inquiry in this matter, with documented behaviour going back some years with successive Ministers of Justice being all for an inquiry before getting into office and then either opposing it or doing an Ingram report type hatchet job on the terms if they do have one. Don’t forget that some of his advice came from Crown Law, who were the same people who opposed his appeals in the Court of Appeal. Having dealt with Crown Law on occasion, I don’t believe they can be impartial in giving that advice.

    Like Poneke and D4J I know judges, defence counsel and legal academics who all think that Ellis’ convictions are unsafe and should be the subject of an inquiry. However, the civil servants (what a great name for those who in effect are our rulers) who work at the MoJ are not experienced legal minds and those who are legally qualified rarely, if ever, have had practices in the criminal jurisdiction. This despite the fact that the legal system is very complex and it takes decades to become a truly good criminal lawyer. The MoJ is driven by civil servants who do not appear to have a concept of justice, but rather focus on outcomes (and I base that on their reports, available on their website) in progessing cases.

    That said, if Power truly had the backbone he likes to make out he has then he would have ignored his officials advice and ordered an inquiry. So he must take ultimately take the blame.

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  27. alex Masterley (1,498 comments) says:

    Poking my head up from the trenches.
    Impartiality and Crown Law = oxymoron. All they want is points on the board.
    I regard Ellis’s conviction as grossly unjust.
    The MOJ is the problem, not the solution. Most of what has eminated from that department has made things worse rather than better.
    I am disappointed with Power.

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  28. Chuck Bird (4,763 comments) says:

    F E Smith, Thanks for that. I have heard from another lawyer that the situation is much the same in the case of Scott Watson. You have summed it up nicely in your last sentence.

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  29. Thinker (12 comments) says:

    Ouch! More than one way to skin a cat it looks like.

    Just when we thought the Peter Ellis thing had died along comes this.

    I’ve got a funny feeling a big can of worms is about to explode.

    The National Business Review

    Police probe Laws link to Peter Ellis child sex identification
    Jock Anderson | Tuesday April 6, 2010 – 03:52pm

    http://www.nbr.co.nz/article/police-probe-laws-link-peter-ellis-child-sex-identification

    And here is the link to the Michael Laws You Tube bit

    Michael Laws names political connections to Peter Ellis case

    http://tinyurl.com/yfd7yjg

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  30. expat (4,048 comments) says:

    url is http://www.nbr.co.nz/article/police-probe-laws-link-peter-ellis-child-sex-identification-121065

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