…or is it that the law’s fine, but it’s practiced, interpreted and implemented by asses!!!

It’s time again for the annual ‘Stella Awards‘! For those unfamiliar with these awards, they are named after 81-year-old Stella Liebeck who spilled hot coffee on herself and successfully sued the McDonald’s in New Mexico , where she purchased coffee. You remember, she took the lid off the coffee and put it between her knees while she was driving (and, oh- wasn’t she freeing her hands to apply eye-liner or such?). Who would ever think one could get burned doing that, right? That’s right; these are awards for the most outlandish lawsuits and verdicts in the U.S. You know, the kinds of cases that make you scratch your head. So keep your head scratcher handy.

Here are the Stellas for year — 2011:


Kathleen Robertson of Austin, Texas was awarded $80,000 by a jury of her peers after breaking her ankle tripping over a toddler who was running inside a furniture store. The store owners were understandably surprised by the verdict, considering the running toddler was her own son

Start scratching!


Carl Truman, 19, of Los Angeles , California won $74,000 plus medical expenses when his neighbor ran over his hand with a Honda Accord. Truman apparently didn’t notice there was someone at the wheel of the car when he was trying to steal his neighbor’s hubcaps.

Scratch some more…


Terrence Dickson, of Bristol , Pennsylvania , who was leaving a house he had just burglarized by way of the garage. Unfortunately for Dickson, the automatic garage door opener malfunctioned and he could not get the garage door to open. Worse, he couldn’t re-enter the house because the door connecting the garage to the house locked when Dickson pulled it shut. Forced to sit for eight, count ’em, EIGHT days and survive on a case of Pepsi and a large bag of dry dog food, he sued the homeowner’s insurance company claiming undue mental Anguish. Amazingly, the jury said the insurance company must pay Dickson $500,000 for his anguish. We should all have this kind of anguish Keep scratching. There are more…

Double hand scratching after this one..


Jerry Williams, of Little Rock, Arkansas, garnered 4th Place in the Stella’s when he was awarded $14,500 plus medical expenses after being bitten on the butt by his next door neighbor’s beagle – even though the beagle was on a chain in its owner’s fenced yard. Williams did not get as much as he asked for because the jury believed the beagle might have been provoked at the time of the butt bite because Williams had climbed over the fence into the yard and repeatedly shot the dog with a pellet gun.

Pick a new spot to scratch, you’re getting a bald spot..


Amber Carson of Lancaster , Pennsylvania because a jury ordered aPhiladelphia restaurant to pay her $113,500 after she slipped on a spilled soft drink and broke her tailbone. The reason the soft drink was on the floor: Ms. Carson had thrown it at her boyfriend 30 seconds earlier during an argument. What ever happened to people being responsible for their own actions?

Only two more so ease up on the scratching…


Kara Walton, of Claymont , Delaware sued the owner of a night club in a nearby city because she fell from the bathroom window to the floor, knocking out her two front teeth. Even though Ms. Walton was trying to sneak through the ladies room window to avoid paying the $3.50 cover charge, the jury said the night club had to pay her $12,000….oh, yeah, plus dental expenses. Go figure.

Ok. Here we go!!


This year’s runaway First Place Stella Award winner was: Mrs. Merv Grazinski, of Oklahoma City , Oklahoma , who purchased new 32-foot Winnebago motor home. On her first trip home, from an OU football game, having driven on to the freeway, she set the cruise control at 70 mph and calmly left the driver’s seat to go to the back of the Winnebago to make herself a sandwich. Not surprisingly, the motor home left the freeway, crashed and overturned. Also not surprisingly, Mrs. Grazinski sued Winnebago for not putting in the owner’s manual that she couldn’t actually leave the driver’s seat while the cruise control was set. The Oklahoma jury awarded her, are you sitting down? $1,750,000 PLUS a new motor home. Winnebago actually changed their manuals as a result of this suit, just in case Mrs. Grazinski has any relatives who might also buy a motor home. If you think the court system is out of control, you are certainly not alone!!!


“One Apology We Have Yet To Hear.”

A nation feels collective shame and disgust for the incident where a 16 year old youth physically and sexually assaulted a 5 year old girl while she slept in a caravan at a public camping ground in Turangi. Such barbaric behaviour is reprehensible and no reason can be given that could in any way mitigate the boy’s actions. As if in some way taking responsibility for the attack New Zealand citizens both aired their outrage and donated generously to a fund for the injured girl and her family (tourists in a country yesterday declared the “friendliest place on Earth“.) Having seen this public reaction and heard the views of thousands and thousands who felt strongly enough to air them, and having been involved in a litany of cases of disgraceful assaults against children one would have thought our judiciary would have taken a strong and uncompromising view that would reflect the public feelings, and would have stood strongly on the side of the victims. Yet we see this!!!

It’s laudable that the youth felt some remorse and that this should be reflected by him (supposedly) writing a prayer, but I am very skeptical about this given (a) he actually didn’t read or recite the prayer in court, and (b) he didn’t pray for his victim but rather for his own forgiveness. If I’m wrong and he truly felt remorseful, so much the better but this smacks of his whanau (belatedly, it would seem) stepping in and being/looking supportive.

Further, and perhaps even more worrying if we are considering whether and how justice might prevail is the presiding judge chattily commenting on the accused’s natty dress and allowing (inviting) his mother to do the communicating with God thing! Of course this hearing was only an early stage of the pursuit of justice for the wee lady who suffered the horrendous mental and physical hurt but does it set a tone? Should the hearing be about the accused’s state of mind or actually establishing he has a case to answer and putting the victim/s in a place where they know their best interests are going to be served?

There actually seems to be a lack of remorse shown here if it is true, as is apparent by the words of the girl’s parents, that despite the reassurance that the accused appears to have received from the judge he has not made an apology to the girl or her family in spite of the fact that he has indicated he will plead guilty. Is there some point to leaving such an apology to the day he is officially found guilty and sentenced, or would it better serve him if he actually showed his (apparent) remorse by addressing himself less to his own  selfish feelings and more to the incident itself and the irreparable damage he has done to an innocent and defenseless visitor to this, the ‘friendliest’ country.

I must admit here that I have not read or heard the full content of the ‘prayer’, rather I have based my opinions on newspaper reports, but if these are full and to be believed I would share and sympathise with the views of the parents and hold the hope that something happens sooner rather than later to assure them that there is remorse and justice will be done, even though nothing that can be done can undo the horror of that awful day part way through a restful holiday in a country that to all intents and purposes is one of the most beautiful, peaceful and safe places on Earth to be.


I received a very disturbing email this morning, not just because of the dreadful pictures contained therein but also (and for me, mostly) because of the message it was delivering.

Firstly, these are the dreadful pictures depicting an 8 year old child being administered the punishment decreed following his being found stealing a loaf of bread, that of having his offending arm run over by the wheel of a car.

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The text in the email states- “An 8 years old child was caught in a market in Iran for stealing bread” Then- “In the name of Islam he will be punished, his arm will be crushed by a car. He will loose forever the possibility to use his arm ever again.” And- “Is this a religion of peace and love?

I agree entirely with the message that such punishment is barbaric, I agree with anybody who condemns a religion that supports such barbarism, I agree that such mal-treatment in the name of ‘justice’ cannot be condoned, BUT I cannot agree with the intent of this email to paint ALL Muslims in the same colour as the fanatical mullahs who undertake to put their own extreme interpretation on the teachings of the Koran. More and more today we are being shown evidence of the excesses of the fanatics and the disciples of the fanatics of world of Islam.

Some time ago I received another email that gave a hugely imbalanced list of many Jewish ‘achievers’ against few Islamics. What the email chose to ignore was all of the beauty, learning, civilisation, etc., that Islam gave the world, but of course when you are pushing a message the last thing you want is balance!

In Iran children are being tortured in the name of Islamic ‘justice’. Shame! In Iraq one Muslim schism is trying to destroy sects they disagree with. Shame! In Afghanistan the Taliban are cutting off the hands of women. Shame! In Libya women are being stoned for apparent adultery. Shame! And so the list goes on. What we aren’t being told, or at least not being told loudly enough is that the majority of Muslims across the globe are also outraged that their religion is being twisted and abused by the fanatics.

And, sadly, more and more we ‘infidels’ around the world buy into the broad-brush approach to condemning all Islam because of the actions of the few. Ban the burkah because every Muslim woman wearing one is either downtrodden or carrying a parcel-bomb under it. Move the mosques as far away from us as possible because they are all madrasahs teaching the young to rise up and blow us to bits. Ban entry into our country to all Muslims because they ‘aren’t like us’ and will breed revolution.

Unfortunately we are pussy-footing around issues because we are fearful of what the fanatics will attempt in the name of their perceived Western bias, intolerance, even hatred. I do believe that the moderate voice of Islam needs to be heard, that the extremists need to be cried out against by those in the Muslim mainstream, but the same can be said in the West with the more extreme versions of so-called Christian groups.

But I am not going to forward the email as it was sent to me because I do not subscribe to the view that Islam is like what those who sent the original message, and those who sent it on would have us believe, a religion that does not preach “peace and love”. If any of today’s religions preach “peace and love”, I doubt they do it any better than the Koran and the original teaching of Allah does.
“Where Would We Be?”


Whale Oil Beef Hooked blogger Cameron Slater has been found guilty on a number of counts of breaching name suppression orders, and I suppose there can be little argument that he did, in fact breach orders imposed by judges in a number of ‘high profile’ cases and is, therefore, guilty. That Mr. Cameron’s arguments to have the name-suppression practice either overthrown or at least made less easily applied have to be tested in the law court has achieved its purpose by publicising the campaign but what does this actually achieve? There are many New Zealanders who would agree with Mr. Cameron about name suppression being granted too often and too easily, and I suspect if it came to the point of being voted on there would be significant support for at least a review of the current law. It would appear that Mr Cameron’s efforts to skirt the law by various means has been unsuccessful and through the trial process those who he wished to ‘name and shame’ have been able to retain their anonymity because the court, of course, upholds the suppression orders.

I hope that more Kiwis will lend their support to Mr Cameron’s campaign as too often it seems that suppression orders are granted to ‘the rich and famous’ and not infrequently for what could be argued as specious reasons. Visit Mr Cameron’s blog at


Recently in NZ there was a case where a ‘high profile public servant’ was in court facing charges of assaulting his 16 year old son (by punching him repeatedly in the face/head, it was claimed. [By the way, a son who had stolen $700 from his mother’s purse and subsequently spent most of it.]) The judge in the case granted name suppression, at least while the case progressed because there was a fear that the publicity would jeopardise the person’s job. In the event a well-known NZ blogger infringed this court order and named the defendant (something he has done in the past.) People’s views on the matter probably spanned the full spectrum from total support to total condemnation (of the naming). I suspect many were in favour of the ‘outing’ because they feel that name suppression is used far too frequently, especially for other than ‘ordinary’ people and unfairly protects where it is felt protection isn’t warranted. (This is where my opinion lies.)

The case arrived at a ‘not guilty’ verdict, and the defence lawyer condemned the blogger’s actions.

My question is, in this instance was the blogger right or wrong to name the defendant? Was the person named because of who he/she was or was he named because the crime was so terrible that anybody defending it must be guilty and unworthy of protection? It would appear that some facts made public before the case was far into its hearing were based on reported opinions of eye-witnesses to ‘the assault’- and the blogger believed the damning versions rather than alternate views?

Was the court right to order name suppression in this case? How much damage would accrue from a not guilty verdict? Would suppression have been lifted with a guilty verdict? Should any [guilty before the fact] defendant expect protection following the commission of a crime (any crime)? Obviously there is strong argument to protect the identity of victims, especially in cases that involve indecency and children.

It would seem that in this case to name the accused who had name suppression was wrong- or does the blogger believe some people don’t deserve protection in any circumstances, or that name suppression is wrong? (Or if some are given suppression all should?)

What is certain to me is that lawyer Mike Antunovic is wrong.


We hear that police in Wairarapa have over 100 unheard/unallocated/uninvestigated/improperly actioned/open child abuse cases ‘on the books’. Now we have a case of child (13 year old girl) sexual abuse being dismissed through lack of evidence.

Is there a link here? Is this case (which actually got to court, so we have to guess there was something of a case to answer) the dismissal came on new(ish) instructions of the Solicitor General who outlined requirements of evidence (“From January 1, the Solicitor-General’s guidelines require prosecutions to reach a significantly higher standard. In the past that standard was one of prima facie (on the face of it). The test now requires “evidential sufficiency”. Fair enough.  An admission by the police that they couldn’t present such ‘sufficient evidence’ meant the case was dismissed.

My question is, again, is there a connection, here? What could cause the police to change their minds if it is not because the case wasn’t investigated properly? Surely if there were sufficient cops to do the investigation AND IT TURNED UP INSUFFICIENT EVIDENCE the case would not have arrived at court? If there were insufficient police to investigate the case properly, what were the other policemen doing (instead of  investigating the case)- highway patrol related duties to keep revenue collection up? (God forbid we are seeing police inefficiency, incompetence or indifference!)

To have a situation IN ONE POLICING AREA that has ‘over 100’ child abuse cases going without sufficient investigation and consequential closure is inexcusable.

The situation in NZ Law and Order is, by growing instances, becoming less of both.


I have a bit of a problem with a so-called ‘justice’ system that allows a 13 year old to walk away from a viscious stabbing of his teacher, yet a 15 year old is charged with “assault and threatening to kill” for presenting a knife. To carry this a step or two further, the boy was apparently not provoked into taking such extreme action, but the girl was responding to verbal, and one suspects pretty nasty bullying, by a group of peers.
I do not condone the girl’s actions any more than I do the boy’s, but it is strange that we can have a justice system that has such inequity. Obviously there will be consequences for the boy- he will be counselled, and there will likely be an apology to his teacher as part of a restorative justice conference, but how far will this go towards changing who he is and his attitudes governing personal management, particularly in situations requiring decision making and conflict with others.