Nice to see Labour not automatically opposed

The Herald reports on the sweeping changes to trials in the Criminal Procedure (Reform and Modernisation) Bill.

The one that will probably attract the most debate is moving the threshold for jury trials from a maximum three months to a maximum three years.

While the list of offences that would be affected is long, officials have advised Mr Power that the most common cases would be theft of between $5oppos00 and $1000; receiving between $500 and $1000; possession of a class A drug; common assault; and assault on a female or child.

I’d be interested in what the stats are for these offences, in terms of how many people convicted of them even receive a jail sentence at all. A maximum is just that – and generally never given out.

The opposition Labour Party’s associate justice spokesman, Charles Chauvel, said that while some change in the threshold for jury trials made sense, Labour would reserve its position until it had heard select committee submissions.

That is a very sensible position to take, and good on Labour for not being opposed just for the sake of it. I’m not 100% convinced myself moving the threshold to three years is the right point – maybe it should be two years – again would be good to see hard data on this.

Some of the charges no longer tried before a jury (with current maximum term):

* Ill treatment or wilful neglect of child
* Possession or use of class A drug

* Possession of unauthorised seed or fruit

* Driving with excess breath alcohol (3rd offence onwards)
* Driving while disqualified (3rd offence onwards)
* Bigamy
* Infanticide

* Assault with intent
* Making intimate visual recording
* Aggravated careless use of vehicle causing injury or death
* Indecency with animal

Oh that is unfortunate. If these changes come through, I’ll never get to be a juror on a donkey sex case. I always thought if one has to be a juror, that would be more interesting that an assault or burglary case etc.

On the other hand these donkey sex cases tend to always be in Nelson or Christchurch, so I guess I would not have got one anyway. And add to that, that in 25 years of availability I have never once been summoned for jury service.

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