Welcome to the Civic Protest

 

 

On this page you can read about how all citizens of New Zealand are affected by the failure of the New Zealand justice system to recognise and correct its errors subsequent to the 1991-1993 prosecution of Peter Ellis for alleged child sexual abuse, also known as the Christchurch Civic Child Care Centre (Crèche) Case. [For the public record on this case see  www.peterellis.org.nz (a link to independent site)].

 

You can also read about the stand others have chosen to make as a result of the convictions and against future similar injustices.

 

You can learn how you can also make known to the New Zealand government and judicial system your dissatisfaction with the convictions of Peter Ellis and with the system's refusal to examine its failure. You will learn how to express your concern in such a manner that the system cannot readily ignore it.

 

Background

 

Due to illogical arguments permitted under section 23G of the Evidence Act and due to questionable investigative and judicial processes that conspired to keep significant information from being presented in court, the jury in the Ellis trial arrived at verdicts that are patently wrong. That is a conclusion that has been reached by an overwhelming majority of scholars [1] who have researched the wider aspects of the case and is also now recognised by the majority of New Zealanders. [National Business Review-Compaq poll, May 2002]

 

The judicial system has proved itself incapable of self-correction and has instead adopted a siege mentality. The reputations of many of the individuals and processes involved stand to be brought into question. The authorities have a vested interest in upholding the convictions. Phil Goff, former Minister of Justice, says a Royal Commission of Inquiry is not necessary. This is in contrast to the Court of Appeal, which said it was unable to consider some aspects of the case and advised that only a wide-ranging inquiry could do so.

 

In the Ministry of Justice’s response to the 2003 petition calling for a Commission of Inquiry, Val Sim - then chief legal advisor to the minister - wrote that a commission of inquiry is unlikely to arrive at the truth regarding allegations of sexual abuse at the Civic crèche. This is an acknowledgment of the existence of reasonable doubt and it implies that she has no faith in such an inquiry upholding Ellis’ convictions.

 

Parliament's Justice and Electoral Select Committee (2005) concluded that "the operation of the legal system in respect of this case did not inspire adequate public confidence in the operation of the legal system. A justice system should lead to certainty. In this case it seemed to increase the sense of uncertainty."

 

In the Ellis case the justice system’s stance is now driven by expediency and finality rather than by the delivery of justice. Officials believe that certainty in outcome contributes toward maintaining the public’s faith in the judicial process. However, the system’s refusal to acknowledge failings in this case is having the opposite effect, it is eroding the public’s confidence in its processes.

 

The New Zealand judicial system's inability and refusal to address its failings in the Civic case has ramifications for all New Zealand citizens.

 

While the convictions of Peter Ellis stand, all New Zealanders who sit on juries run the risk of complicity in similarly irreversible miscarriages of justice.

 

If you, as a juror, make the wrong decision, as jurors did in the Ellis case, you will have to live with the knowledge that not only have you sent an innocent person to prison but that the judicial system will do everything it can, even against the balance of evidence, to uphold that conviction.

 

Are you prepared to convict an accused on the basis of unscientific testimony from a so-called expert witness, on the basis of a flawed police investigation, on the basis that you may be denied access to evidence prejudicial to the prosecution, and on the basis that a wrongful conviction is highly unlikely to be overturned?

 

Action

 

You can avoid risking such complicity and by doing so also support the effort to overturn Peter Ellis's convictions.

 

How? - simply by the application of honourable ethics and the principle of passive resistance. Here is how it works:

 

When called for jury service you should take the opportunity during the selection process to inform the bench (judge) that the outcome of the Ellis case makes you highly reluctant to risk putting yourself in a position similar to that of the jurors in the Ellis trial. Therefore you would be reluctant to convict the accused in any trial. If possible let fellow members of the jury selection pool know of your intention.

 

It is highly unlikely that you will be selected for the jury. You will be able to go home or return to work with clear conscience.

 

This action is legal and ethical. Section 16C of the Juries Act 1981 states that a juror may be excused: “If the Judge is satisfied that the person objects to jury service on grounds of conscience, whether or not of a religious character.” (for further grounds see following link) Others concerned over the unresolved Ellis case injustice have recently informed the Minister of Justice and the Attorney General of such an intent, their concerns were acknowledged and they were advised what action they could take to excuse themselves from jury service.

 

You will be doing the court a service by alerting it to a source of possible bias within the jury.

 

In effect you will also be issuing a statement of no confidence in the judicial system, one that will continue as long as the Ellis convictions stand. The judicial system may well take notice of this protest as it is directed at the system's very heart - the jury itself.

 

It is hoped many will take up this stand and that those who do so inform others of this protest action.

 

IMPORTANT: inform the judicial system of your intention; copy and paste the following letter and email to your selection of:

 

Simon Power,  Minister of Justice,

Freepost Parliament, PO Box 18888, Wellington.

spower@ministers.govt.nz

simonpower.feilding@xtra.co.nz

simonpower.marton@xtra.co.nz

 

Jeff Orr, Chief Legal Adviser,

Ministry of Justice jeff.orr@justice.govt.nz

 

Chris Finlayson, Attorney General,

Freepost Parliament, PO Box 18888, Wellington.

c.finlayson@ministers.govt.nz

 

You may choose to also inform other members of Parliament

www.clerk.parliament.govt.nz/YourMP/ListMPs/

 

DO NOT forget to include your name.

 

Download printable version (pdf file, right click ‘choose save target as…’ save, then open and print) you will require acrobat reader, free from Adobe.com

 

 

 

 

 

 


Please inform others who may be interested in joining you in such an action. Let them know of your decision and the reasons for it, pass on this web address.

 

This initiative by Richard J Christie of Christchurch, Jonathon Harper of Wellington, New Zealand. (Link to Critique of Eichelbaum Report and Matters Arising from the Ellis Convictions by J. Harper and R. Christie).

 

 

Select, Copy and Paste the following letter into an email or reword to your requirements:

 

 

[Insert your name

address here]

Date

 

Re Peter Ellis case and Jury Service

 

 

Dear Sir/Madam,

 

I write to express my loss of confidence in aspects of the judicial system due to the system's failure to rectify the miscarriage of justice caused to Mr Peter Ellis and his co workers in the Christchurch Civic Child Care Centre case.

 

Until Mr Ellis is pardoned and he and co workers compensated, or a Royal Commission of Inquiry overseen by a judge from outside New Zealand is set up to inquire into all circumstances of the case, I cannot allow myself to be placed in the same position as the jurors in the Ellis case. I cannot, in good conscience, find for the prosecution whilst the New Zealand justice system refuses to acknowledge that it has failed to self-correct in the Ellis case. To do so means I may find myself complicit in a future irreversible miscarriage of justice.

 

I cannot legally refuse jury service if called. However, I notify you that I will make my extreme reluctance to convict known to both Judge, counsel and fellow jury pool members during the selection process.

 

I fail to see how I will then qualify as being suitable to sit in any jury.

 

Yours faithfully,

 

[your name]