It’s a matter of conviction
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
Korotangi Paki pictured in the Auckland District Court.