Friday, June 4, 2010

Erection News, Part II

Also on the front page, some decidedly less sexy news:

A sexual abuse trial was aborted after a juror revealed he became aroused while listening to evidence from the alleged victims.

The elderly jury member was one of 12 people hearing a case in an Auckland Court this week about the sexual abuse of two teenage girls.

[...] On Wednesday, Judge Mary Beth Sharp questioned the jurors about how they were coping.

It is understood she was told the male juror had confided to his fellow jurors that he had been sexually aroused by the victims' evidence but had coped on Tuesday by wearing a condom in the courtroom.

Right, well that's pretty rough. From here, however, the article gets a bit odd.

The man also told the other jurors his views on the trial in case he ended up being taken off the jury.

As a result of that, the trial - which was supposed to run until yesterday - was aborted and the case rescheduled for a new trial date.

The premise of the whole article seems to be 'gross old pervert means rape trial has to be re-done'. But the two sentences above seem to imply that the actual reason for the abandonment of the trial wasn't that a man got an erection, but that the rules around communication among jurors were broken. Of course, I'm no fancy big-city lawyer, and perhaps the reason was indirectly the erection. Typically, it's impossible to tell from the article itself. All I know is that 'Trial cancelled because of breach of jury rules' is a less exciting headline than 'Trial cancelled because of pervert's erection'.

Moving on:

Neither the police nor the Crown would comment, saying the case was still before the courts.

But one source last night told the Herald the alleged victims would now have to go through the ordeal of giving evidence again at another trial.

Another source said this was not the first instance of a juror acting inappropriately.

"While these sorts of events are certainly uncommon, this sort of conduct is not without precedent."

Sources said the aborted case was yet another reason to have sexual abuse trials heard by judges only.

What the shit is this? Writing like this wouldn't survive on Wikipedia, let alone a proper, self-respecting newspaper. This isn't Watergate, people - we don't have to protect Deep Throat. Why do you need an anonymous source to tell you whether the victims will need to testify again? Couldn't you just contact someone at the University Law School, or... any trial lawyer? Oh, and in other breaking news - this isn't the first time a juror has acted inappropriately, in the history of New Zealand jury trials. Then we'll just put a quote in from this anonymous whistle-blower, even though it exactly paraphrases what the previous sentence already said. But the last one is the best. What you really mean is, "people who think sex cases should be tried by a judge only, but for some reason want to keep that fact secret, think that sex cases should be tried by a judge only." I'm going to slip an anonymous note onto my boss's desk saying, "Sources say that James Coe deserves a big fat raise," and I'll see how far that gets me.

There have also been concerns that juries do not always accurately represent society as they often are drawn from people who have the time to do jury service.

The accused's lawyer, Adam Couchman, said what had happened was not a common enough occurrence to seek change in the system.

"This is a once in a 20-year experience, so we have got to be careful of falling into that knee-jerk sort of reaction we all seem to have when something bizarre or significant occurs."

More rubbish weasel words. Honestly, it's like a tired satire of Fox News. Despite the concerns, the only person actually quoted in the article does not seem to share those concerns at all.
It is understood police are looking into the matter.
Oh Christ, just stop it!


  1. I'm guessing that while trying to research the facts around this story, the writer themselves 'became sexually aroused' making all findings unverifiable?

  2. Awesome work Coe, glad to see you're back!