It’s a mat­ter of con­vic­tion

Auckland City Harbour News - - OPINION -

The un­of­fi­cial court of pub­lic opin­ion is watch­ing another wor­ry­ing de­ci­sion by an Auck­land judge.

And Crown Law is con­sid­er­ing an ap­peal against the dis­charge with­out con­vic­tion of Korotangi Paki, younger son of the Maori king, over theft, bur­glary and drunk driv­ing.

Sen­tenc­ing, Judge Philippa Cun­ning­ham said she was ‘‘driven to the con­clu­sion’’ that Paki could lose suc­ces­sion as king if he was con­victed.

(Pre­sum­ably to be con­sis­tent, she dis­charged three other young Maori who were also in­volved. But they had no ‘‘royal’’ prospect to lose.)

She should have known bet­ter. When pos­si­ble ef­fects on a ca­reer swayed her in another con­tro­ver­sial case, the High Court said she was wrong. Judges then had to put it right.

That time, an un­named co­me­dian pleaded guilty to a sex­ual of­fence in­volv­ing his four-year-old daugh­ter af­ter a drink­ing binge.

He said he thought the vic­tim was the child’s mother who was in the same bed.

Judge Cun­ning­ham de­scribed him as a tal­ented New Zealan­der who ‘‘made peo­ple laugh’’ whose ca­reer could be af­fected if she did not dis­charge him with­out con­vic­tion.

So she did. And sup­pressed his name.

When the Crown ap­pealed, Jus­tice Murray Gil­bert for the High Court ruled: That the con­se­quences of a con­vic­tion did not out­weigh the of­fend­ing.

That she had not taken his guilty plea into ac­count.

That the man was drunk should not have been a fac­tor.

Ear­lier, the Solic­i­tor-Gen­eral ap­pealed to the High Court, which quashed another of Judge Cun­ning­ham’s sen­tences – home de­ten­tion af­ter an 18-year-old per­ma­nently dis­abled an el­derly woman in a vi­cious rob­bery in an Auck­land shop­ping mall.

In­stead, the High Court gave him nearly two years in jail.

Just as well Judge Cun­ning­ham took up law rather than medicine.

If she’d made a sim­i­lar se­ries of mis­takes in op­er­at­ing the­atres she could have been struck off by now. In the mail bag:

‘‘You are a piper, paid by Sub­ur­ban News­pa­pers.

‘‘The In­ter­net Party is not a piper; it is a demo­cratic party. I joined it very early so I have seen it up close and per­sonal right through.

‘‘Yes, Kim Dot­com pays the bills, most of them, but his in­flu­ence is just one of the many in­puts that hap­pen in any party.

‘‘He cer­tainly does not dic­tate. ‘We would not let him. But most of us agree with most of what he says, which is why we joined what he started.

‘‘And stop la­belling him right- wing, [PB: I didn’t] and say­ing that the al­liance be­tween the In­ter­net Party and Mana is odd [PB: My word was ‘bizarre’.]

‘‘Kim Dot­com is not left-wing, right-wing, tail-feathers or beak. He just is.

‘‘His per­sonal back­ground was very un­der-priv­i­leged.

‘‘His mother had to work three jobs to keep the fam­ily alive, his fa­ther was an al­co­holic.

‘‘He iden­ti­fies with those who are held un­der. It is a nat­u­ral al­liance, not at all odd.’’ – No­bi­lan­gelo Cera­malus, Wai­heke

‘‘While it is true that he who pays the piper calls the tune, many of us are won­der­ing whether fi­nan­cial back­ers of the Na­tional Party and the Labour Party have greater pub­lic con­cern than Kim Dot­com him­self.

‘‘There is the is­sue of per­sonal pri­vacy and how could we for­get the il­le­gal raid on the Dot­com man­sion?

‘‘Another thing in­flu­enc­ing my vote is the need to choose a small party.

‘‘With the cava­lier re­jec­tion of the find­ings of the Elec­toral Com­mis­sion, small par­ties are try­ing to achieve 5 per cent, not 4. They need our help.

‘‘The coat tails pro­vi­sion has scan­dalously been re­tained.

‘‘This has shown the Na­tional Party in a bad light, re­tain­ing the sta­tus quo has been the self­ish in­ter­est, not the demo­cratic choice.

‘‘I am won­der­ing how Kim Dot­com will get on if he tries to force the hand of play­ers such as Laila Harre and Hone Harawira! They are not a soft touch in the way that other lead­ers might be!’’ – Name pro­vided


Royal heir:

Korotangi Paki pic­tured in the Auck­land Dis­trict Court.

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