Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Vince Siemer Trial

A sad indictment for a country that allows a Solicitor General to argue for the incarceration of a man for contempt of court indefinitely. This case will set a dangerous precedent for the freedom of speech and criticism of the judiciary.Obviously David Collins has no time for disgruntled litigants, which I find rather disturbing, as his role should abide by the rules of Natural Justice.

TV One report on proceedings;


Fathers Coalition member Ben Easton's view of proceedings;

I have been privileged this afternoon to witness an extraordinary part of New Zealand history. Auckland father and businessman Vince Siemer braved any valley of fear placing himself humbly before the Court in request that the Court determines a question as according to the law. The penalty and his sacrifice should he be held in contempt of Court is his freedom. The New Zealand Solicitor General has an application before the Court for Mr. Siemer to be subjected to an indefinite prison sentence.

I had missed most of the previous day and the final morning session of the two day proceedings having deliberately removed myself from the Auckland High Court. Mr. Siemer had directly and astutely argued with the presiding Justices, Justice Gendall and Justice Chisholm that he was entitled to call the Solicitor General as a his, and hostile witness. Both Justice Chisholm and Gendall had argued points that could be reasonably refuted and countered by Mr. Siemer, although neither judge had established an argument to outweigh the demand of New Zealand law and its responsibility to observe and be subservient to natural justice.

In the limited period I was able to observe this afternoon this point on the nature of “law” became the burden of the Court. Justice Chisholm promoted a hypothetical situation around the point fishing in legal ground as to how the difficult and complex issues before them could be compromised if judgment were of a certain type. Mr. Siemer rightfully pointed out that he was now accustomed to these discussions responding evenly that the law should not be entitled movement adding that he was indeed a law abiding citizen and if he could be instructed what it was he had done wrong he would in fact be able to comply. It was clear that both judges were unused to the harder ground of a lay litigant when standing to principle in a manner that no lawyer (with maybe the recent exception of Rob Moody Berryman vs. Solicitor General) has ever dared to tread. Mr. Siemer stood his ground. He states he has done nothing wrong.

On following the case I am fortunate to be familiar with these kinds of proceedings having been engaged in similar discussions before the bench myself. The reader can note that there are similar proceedings occurring in Feilding where I in the capacity of being of a father’s coalition am an indirect party. The Family Court has been narrowed into a criticism of its practice where it’s only possible escape seems to be to continue by advancing into greater and more horrendous unlawful practices in the blind hope that the growing adversity will simply fall away. The definition and interpretation demanded of the Court is the same in both proceedings. The Court is accountable to the law. The law must come first and its administrators a very distant if not lonely second.

Again in these proceedings as I did yesterday, I am drawn to concentrate on the comments of Justice Gendall. Justice Gendall advanced on Mr. Siemer his view of law and democracy in a challenge of the businessman, questioning him as if his actions, deeds and statement were a claim to be above the law. Again Mr. Siemer held to his very stable ground. He reiterated to the judge as he had claimed but a few minutes earlier that he was not a king or sovereign: He was a citizen obeying the law. While for some the judge’s comments may hold merit and the simplicities of authority provide them with the same confidence the judge demanded that his interpretation was the final determination of the law, the judge himself would be fool to heed his own statement of such self confidence.

The law’s purpose is to facilitate practice. Due process is the construction of that practice and in New Zealand due process is bound to natural justice. Natural justice is the practice of being fair. The problem the Court has is that Mr. Siemer is reasonably complaining that there are several naked examples where that practice of natural justice is the subject of compromise. Again I state that it was clearly apparent that the judges were unaccustomed to having to deal with such a staunch advocate to the nation’s principles.

In his closing submission Mr. Siemer made a clear statement to which all should pay attention. Naturally if justice can not be seen to be done then the result can only be chaos. This comment seemed to hit a note of recognition with the judges yet it is how deeply this mark of candid interpretation of “natural justice” scored with the judges as to how they will rule in their now reserved judgment. From the perspective of fathers who would rally to the call for support from this brave and valiant father it is impossible for him to be wrong. The judge has to be fair. Attempting to negotiate a judgment with the respondent as if a negotiation on what constitutes “the law” is a very far cry from a non corrupt judiciary in function in this country.

As one of those dads; Mr. Siemer has my unrelenting support. Under the national public demand of an adherence to natural justice, given the extensive examples in this and other strongly presentable cases the New Zealand judicial system may be holding tenuously on to a very thin thread of integrity.

Mr.Siemer was justifiably applauded as the judges retired.

Benjamin Easton
Father’s Coalition.

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