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The case against Michael Reed

By Steven | July 9, 2010

Michael Reed QC, Morning Report on Wednesday:

The jury were completely convinced that David hadn’t done it.

This betrays either a gob-smacking ignorance of fundamental principles of criminal law, or an intention to mislead the public about the significance of a not-guilty verdict.

Fortunately, one of the Bain jurors seems to understand the law better than Reed, as demonstrated in this letter to the Christchurch Press last month:

As a member of David Bain’s retrial jury, I am angered by the misinterpretation of our not-guilty verdict by the public, and particularly by the media. In an article in The New Zealand Herald, shortly after the retrial verdict last June, Paul Holmes wrote: ‘‘David Bain is innocent. Robin Bain came in from the caravan that cold Monday morning and killed four sleeping members of his family, then himself.’’

This type of conclusion has been repeated many times in the year since the trial finished. Even in Friday’s Press article about an upcoming play about the murder case, Katie Chapman states that Bain’s ‘‘defence successfully argued that Robin was the killer’’. I take exception to this flawed characterisation of David Bain’s not-guilty verdict. As a jury, we did not necessarily find David innocent or Robin guilty. Our task was to determine if David Bain’s guilt was proved beyond reasonable doubt – a very high threshold. Anyone who reads from our verdict that Robin Bain is guilty is just plain wrong. Robin Bain was not on trial – David was.

Good on RNZ’s Monique Devereux for making this point.

Incidentally, this also rather suggests that there are occasions on which it is valuable to hear from jurors after a verdict, despite the hard line taken on this issue by many judges.

Topics: General | 9 Comments »

9 Responses to “The case against Michael Reed”

  1. justin Says:
    July 9th, 2010 at 4:41 pm

    It all serves to highlight more of the fictions the law sometimes uses to support itself.

    At common law, the ‘golden thread’ was a presumption of innocence, rebuttable on proof of reasonable doubt. Absent proof to that standard, the presumption of innocence remained. On that basis, David is innocent ‘at law’.

    On the other hand, the BORA presumption of innocence is in relation to ‘the determination of the charge’ only. On that basis, now that the charge has been determined, David can no longer avail himself of the presumption of innocence and questions of ‘innocence’ remain to be determined if and when they arise.

    An obvious but illuminating point is that if Robin Bain had survived his injury and been put on trial, he too would likely have been able to show a reasonable doubt and therefore secure an acquittal as well.

    Karam v Justice For Robin Bain promise to be a very interesting case if it reaches trial (not least of all for it ironic name).

    ‘M’lud, in the case of Karam against Justice for Robin Bain…’:)

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