I recently posted a collection of ridiculous court decisions and asked, “Is The Law An Ass?” I suggested that the law was OK but the people who work in and around courts could well be the issue, and upon reflection I think this is more the case. The mere fact that all of the decisions listed here were made in the United States opens up other options, of course, but we continue to see examples of the law being ‘interpreted’ by some in widely differing ways.
I was interested to read a few days ago that a case that was heard (and ruled on) some time ago was to be brought back to court because the original sentence was possibly passed down by one of these legal ‘asses’. A person was found guilty of abusing his 4 year old daughter (and it would seem there was some suggestion of sexual impropriety in the act?) but the judge, in her very finite wisdom decided that because the convicted man was a public figure, and more, a public figure who made people laugh (he is, apparently, one of our favourite comedians) and gave them joy, he would be discharged without conviction.
Now I am a simple layman but to me this means he was guilty of the charge but because the sentencing judge held certain views and opinions, either about the charge or about the charged (or both) he could go on his way with no record of guilt, a free man who apparently had done no wrong.
If this is the case the law is very definitely an ass. A child had been assaulted- how seriously or whether or not there were sexual elements is to a certain extent immaterial. Or whether by a stranger or a family member. A child was assaulted– a defenceless 4 year old child! And the case had been proven- either by evidence or plea I don’t really care- it had been proven!
There have been other unsavoury outcomes from court actions against ‘personalities’. It is immaterial to me whether the person convicted is a sportsperson, a legal-eagle, an artist, a politician or successful business person, or if they are black, white or brindle- if they are found guilty of the crime they were in court to answer for then any name suppression should be lifted and they should be given a punishment that fits the crime. They should not be hidden under a blanket of suppression because to be ‘outed’ would harm their reputations or their business. They should have thought of that before they beat their child, abused someone, drove drunk, defrauded others or committed any of the other myriad of crimes that we see such people charged with.
I guess there is some merit to suppression before guilt is established, but once you’ve been convicted suppression of name, charges and any other potentially damaging information relating to the crime should be lifted. The advice is simple if one doesn’t want to be seen as a horrible person- don’t commit the offence (and for goodness’ sake, if you do don’t say you weren’t aware of what you were doing!)
Come on, judiciary.