Some heavy stories provoked responses from Crikey readers yesterday. Firstly, Bri Lee’s account of the courts’ potential inabilities to fairly deal with sexual assault cases. Secondly, Bernard Keane’s breakdown of the government’s concerning policies that bring us closer to a police state. 

Who would have thought it was the Trump-Kim summit that would bring some levity?


On Australian sexual assault trials

Niall Clugston writes: Crikey asks, “Has the jury model of justice failed?” in introduction to a discussion about sexual assault. However, the Saxon Mullins rape case in NSW, the jury found the accused man guilty, while the judge on retrial found him not guilty. It doesn’t help to push simplistic solutions to horrible problems.

Marcus Hicks writes: It’s not just the jury system that has failed us, it is the entire adversarial justice system. The adversarial approach may work for some kinds of cases, but for cases of a sexual nature I feel a more European style of courtroom would work much better.

Zut Alors writes: Nor are juries a representative cross-section of our society. The majority of people I know who have been called up for jury duty manage to dodge it — especially if an employer is prepared to say they are doing essential work and cannot be spared.

Kyle Hargraves writes: An interesting account of the “wheels of justice”. A moderate amount is likely to be assumed by the general public but it is nice to have some confirmation — so to write.

What was not mentioned is that the British-based/US justice system is “adversarial” in contrast to the European (neo-quasi Roman/Napoleonic Code) “inquisitorial” system. In the case of the latter, the judges undertake most of the examination of the facts and not the prosecutors. In some cases the statements need not be given under oath. Better? Mm…

If I recall I think it was an episode of John Mortimer’s Rumpole of the Bailey where the judge complained of the inconsistent evidence of the witnesses “am I not to hear the truth Sir Joshua”? “No, my Lord, merely the evidence” was the reply.


On an increasing police state

Marcus Hicks writes: Sadly some people in politics think that 1984 was a “how to guide”, not a warning.

Judy Hardy-Holden writes: I thought we might have avoided a police state when Joh Bjelke-Petersen got the chop. I was fearful then and I am fearful now. Not in a raving loony-type of fearfulness but in a sad, dispirited one. Our supposedly charming “she’ll be right” attitude leaves us vulnerable to those whose hands are on the levers of public control and this government, with its grim legacy of right-wing nuttery, lusts after all the control it can get.

She’ll not be right, sheeple. If we leave it to those who have a vested interest in control. It does matter who makes what laws for whatever purpose. Being “Australian” does not clothe us in some magic cloak of invulnerability to political oppression. We can look just as stupid, mindless, surprised, traumatised as any other society that falls under a dictatorship.


On the Trump-Kim summit

Colin Ross writes: As Plutarch would have observed after the Trump-Kim summit, “the mountain has laboured and brought forth a gnat”.

Saugood writes: I think one thing is for certain. No matter the outcome, Trump will claim it as the successiest success of all time, ever. Something the likes no other person in history has achieved.


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