Sunday, May 29, 2011
Karl du Fresne: Better Behaviour in Courts!
Throughout his appearance, he was gesticulating and waving. At one point he made a defiant gesture to the TV camera. The reporter told us the man appeared to be conducting a conversation, using signs and gestures, with someone in the body of the court.
There was a time when such behaviour wouldn’t have been tolerated. At the first raise of his hand the defendant would have been firmly told by any policeman in the vicinity to behave himself. If that didn’t work, he would have been fixed with an icy glower from the Bench and ordered to be taken back down to the cells until he learned to show some respect.
If the defendant had the misfortune to strike a crusty old magistrate like the irascible Ben Scully, a legend in his day, he might well have been convicted of contempt without further ado.
Yet the policemen accompanying the defendant in the Waitakere court didn’t raise an eyebrow and evidently the judge said nothing about his behaviour. We can assume from this that such antics are commonplace.
When criminals are routinely allowed to get away with minor infractions, it’s hardly surprising that they feel emboldened to proceed to more serious offences. This is the theory behind the “broken windows” model of policing that has been effective overseas. Arrest the vandals who smash windows, the theory goes, and they might be discouraged from committing worse crimes.
Applying the same rationale, our lamentable crime rate might start to improve if the courts showed less tolerance toward arrogant young punks like the Waitakere show-off.
at 10:05 AM