As you know, not all countries use a jury in their criminal court - New Zealand does - twelve randomly selected people from the community. Last week, I was one of them in the Auckland District Court. Over the first few days, I heard about 20 witnesses against the defended - 17 of them were police or related officers. When it was time for the jury to deliberate, the Forewoman, who was chosen because she had been a juror before, wrote her facts on the white board including incorrect ones - I then had to prove they were wrong. When I later pointed out that I was not happy with the derogative assumptions made about the defended around the table, one man blew up, saying: I feel offended by you saying that. Then suddenly, the call for guilty was made and I was the only one who did not put my hand up. The next morning, I requested of the Judge to be excused from the jury service as I was not prepared to participate in bias proceedings - he declined my request, but oh boy, if looks could kill! Well, the jurors were then willing to deliberate and we came to a verdict. It was too late for me to prevent this chap from going to jail, but, I understood the circumstances which brought him there. I now feel compelled to take GOLORE's Young Entrepreneur Program to the prisons. Of course our communities need to be protected against criminals, however, from my experiences, I have a number of concerns. Is our judicial system breeding criminals? Is our jury service merely a rubber stamp for others' decisions? Can a mostly Pakeha jury be objective towards a Maori defendend? Has this chap been found guilty already at the time of his arrest, before he was proven guilty? Is prison doing the community any favours?
|Susanna Susara Kruger||
Author, Speaker, Educator & Entrepreneur