Wednesday, September 22, 2004

Astrid is acquitted

Astrid Anderson has won her appeal against a criminal nuisance conviction. This had resulted after a woman was killed in a race that she had organized and the death was attributable to errors that she had committed, namely conveying the impression that a road was closed to outside traffic when it was not. She had fought this case tooth and nail, purportedly on the grounds that her conviction would deter anybody else from organizing a sports race. Since her conviction did not deter her from organizing the same race again, it's a good question of how well she believed what she was saying.

However the interesting thing about this case for me is that she won her appeal on the grounds that the standard for criminal nuisance should be recklessness rather than negligence. This is almost certainly based on the precedent of Derek Powell who killed a woman while driving through a picket. Despite this being a fairly famous case that had happened the previous year and was big news locally, neither the Judge nor Astrid's lawyers at the original trial seemed to be aware of the precedent. My confidence in the calibre of Christchurch's legal system is somewhat shaken.

UPDATE: Having now read the judgement (as opposed to leaping from conclusions from TV reports), I'll have to make a couple of corrections. Powell isn't a precedent and Astrid's lawyers did unsuccessfully make the case at the original trial that the standard should have been recklessness. So the interesting point of my post isn't.