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Old 5th April 2006, 09:25 PM   #1
Your friendly local necromancer
Join Date: Mar 2006
Location: Te Awamutu, New Zealand
Posts: 100
New Zealand Louise Nicholas Case

For those who don't know: Louise Nicholas accused some cops of historical rape but lost the court case. Unless all the court reporters forgot to tell us something, there wasn't really a case at all except her word that it happened.

The verdict has created outrage amongst feminists, some of whom hit the streets of Wellington handing out pamphlets which included suppressed evidence they felt should have been presented.

Here's my armchair observations:

In this country we have a principle of "innocent until proven guilty". There is no definition of "proof" which says someone's word is sufficient to prove anything. You simply can't convict someone based on someone else's word.

I've seen some blogs asking "Why would she make it up?". Having worked in the field of psychology I find it hard to believe people could be so naive. I'll just say this.... people make up stuff like this every day. I myself was falsely accused of rape while working as a nurse. It happens.

The information contained in the pamphlets is illegal to make public but it's not hard to find. I've seen the pamphlet and I have to say it does colour one's opinion of the whole case - it is very damaging to the defendants (it regards their previous record). But here's the rub - the information is not actually relevant to this case. At first glance it does seem very relevant but if you think about it from a logical point of view it isn't. The process of arriving at a logical conclusion is very specific, and from a logical standpoint this information is entirely irrelevant to the Louise Nicholas case.

If this evidence had been allowed, it would undoubtedly have influenced the jury's deliberation. Whether or not the case would have had a different outcome I don't know, but people are only human (and most have no idea about logic) so I would be very concerned about the impact it would have had. I think it was the right decision to suppress this information.

But just when you thought it was simple....
- The police spent two years pursuing this case, suggesting that they thought it had some merit. It's hard to imagine them putting that much effort into a case based only on someone's word.
- The jury spent 27 hours deliberating, which seems strange given the non-existence of any reported evidence.

But in the end it all comes down to "innocent until proven guilty". No proof, no conviction. End of story.
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