There’s more than one way to kill a cat – and bad buggers, too – as US prisons run short of lethal drugs

May 24, 2014

Alf is partial to a good fry-up.

The good people of Tennessee like one too. They are planning on bringing back the electric chair to replace lethal injections.

Tennessee has 74 prisoners on death row. The authorities could run up a fair-sized power bill by the time they get through that lot

Wyoming and Utah are considering the return of firing squads.

The Supreme Court has upheld the legality of the firing squad in 1879, the electric chair in 1890 and lethal injection in 2008.

Wonder if anyone is thinking about the guillotine, the gallows, burning at the stake or – a bit bloodier but once deemed appropriate for bad buggers in England who had committed high treason- hanging, drawing and quartering.

William de Marisco is drawn to his execution.

William de Marisco is drawn to his execution.

Convicts were fastened to a hurdle, or wooden panel, and drawn by horse to the place of execution, where they were hanged (almost to the point of death), emasculated, disembowelled, beheaded and quartered (chopped into four pieces). Their remains were often displayed in prominent places across the country, such as London Bridge. For reasons of public decency, women convicted of high treason were instead burned at the stake.

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Doc on ethics rap hasn’t avoided punishment – not by buggering off to Australia, anyway

May 18, 2014

Alf’s attention was grabbed by the headline and intro to a Herald on Sunday story about Dr Jonathan Graham Wright, a fellow who was found to have breached professional and ethical standards when he accepted money from an 81-year-old terminal cancer sufferer, Cornelis Soeters.

The patient’s son, Paul Soeters, 46, seems to have uncovered a record of the payment.

The son obviously is a bloke with a strong sense of right and wrong, and he said it “doesn’t seem right” that the doctor – a medic with two previous stains on his professional record – has been able to avoid restrictions by moving to Queensland before the Health Practitioners Disciplinary Tribunal ruling.

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The water claim: there are times when the best thing a dame can do is get out of the way

December 22, 2012

The intro to one item in the Herald today somewhat understates the position – at least insofar as Alf has firm thoughts on the matter.

It says (here) –

Chief Justice’s past links with Maori Council have ministers ill at ease

Your hard-working MP for Eketahuna North is downright stroppy on the matter.

The intro leads readers into a good piece from Fran O’Sullivan which points out that Dame Sian Elias successfully acted for the Maori Council on several high-profile Treaty claims against the Crown in the 1980s through to the mid-1990s.

That invites the question –

Should Chief Justice Sian Elias recuse herself from the upcoming Supreme Court hearing on the Maori water rights claim?

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Chubby conman takes an extreme step to subvert the law-and-order process

August 11, 2012

Alf was fascinated this morning by the story of a bloke – described as obese – who has failed to appear in the Hamilton District Court five times since April to face fraud charges.

The law forbids publication of the name of this feller, who has a record as a conman.

The courts have given him interim name suppression.

But we can tell you he won’t be turning up on future occasions because he died in Waikato Hospital on Wednesday night.

Whether this means he must be buried in an unnamed grave is unclear.

Why he was given name suppression is unclear from the Herald story, too.

The more important question is whether he should have been given name suppression.

The bugger had more than 150 dishonesty convictions in New Zealand and Australia.

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A good idea from New York – young lawyers should earn their ticket by working for free for a while

May 7, 2012

Alf has been minded of our hefty legal-aid bill in recent times.

And its drain on the public purse.

His hackles were raised by news that the legal aid bill for David Bain’s retrial was $3.33m, the highest amount in legal history.

New Zealand’s legal history, presumably.

The Ministry of Justice said that the final figure for Bain’s defence was $3.33 million.

Of that amount, $2.33 million went towards the retrial costs and almost $1 million was paid for expenses in the retrial like research, investigators and forensics.

Lawyer’s fees throughout the High Court, Court of Appeal and retrial process amounted to $1.77 million of the total bill.

Bain’s lawyer, Michael Reed QC, told Radio NZ most of the costs of the retrial were to pay for overseas experts.

Bain is not receiving legal aid in his bid for compensation.

Then came a report saying New Zealand had spent a billion dollars on legal aid since 2000.

The five most expensive criminal legal aid grants were made in cases either discharged, or where the defendant was found to be innocent.

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Oh, look – the judges are chewing up millions on travel and attending conferences

January 12, 2012

Nice work by Vernon Small at The Dom-Post today.

He has flushed out figures showing judges have clocked up more than $18 million on travel and accommodation over the past three years.

Among these were five overseas trips where Chief Justice Dame Sian Elias took her husband Hugh along at taxpayers’ expense.

Hugh who?

Oh, yes. Business tycoon Hugh Fletcher, who used to be chief executive of Fletcher Challenge and whose family’s wealth is reckoned to be $70 million, although Alf is always bemused about how the newspapers make that sort of calculation.

In thise case the reckoning was done by the National Business Review, which last year ranked the wider Fletcher family 53rd equal on its rich list.

Anyway, Hugh dutifully accompanied Dame Sian to the Caribbean Turks and Caicos islands in 2009-10 for a Commonwealth Magistrates Judges Association conference.

In the same year he accompanied her to the United States, London and Melbourne.

Perhaps she relies on him to keep her judges’ robes clean and ironed on these occasions, or some such.

So what are the rules about who pays for Hugh’s travels with his missus?

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An outrage: ministry must cough up for upsetting a jailbird whose crimes include aggravated robbery

July 17, 2011

Alf will be spending some time today checking out who’s who and what’s what at an outfit called the Human Rights Review Tribunal.

We have far to many tribunals.

This one deals with claims under the Human Rights Act, the Privacy Act and the Health and Disability Commissioner Act.

Its only useful purpose – at first blush – is that maybe Alf will need a job there one day, because it provides a bit of work for some former MPs.

Its members include Keith Shirley and Brian Neeson, neither of them – in Alf’s experience – inclined to smoke the sort of stuff that would addle their brains or mix with lefties who who would convert them to their namby-pamby world view.

Alf accordingly would like to think neither of them was involved in the decision that triggered his (a) enormous indignation – no, make that enormous outrage; and (b) immediate research into the tribunal and its purpose.

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