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Beware of Knee-Jerk Reactions

11 April 2018

Around twenty years ago when I started doing jury trials I remember that I used to smoke in the Crown room over at the court.

At some point the building was then made smoke-free so I used to hang out the window and smoke. When my boss, told me that there were complaints about me hanging out the window and smoking, I kept doing it but lit incense. (I was pretty anti-authoritarian back then and it has just dawned on me incense burning probably breached fire regulations.)

2018. I am not allowed to bring a latte into court house and every time I go in my bag and person is scanned.

I don’t deal well with change. I argued long and hard when I was not first not allowed to bring my latte into the courthouse. I have tried to explain to those in power - unsuccessfully - that whilst I have prosecuted many people for stabbing other people, and I might at a push accept that a scalding cup of black coffee could be dangerous, I am yet to see anybody be injured with a warm latte.

I do not understand today’s insistence on knee jerk reactions to obvious problems.

I understand the need for ensuring that Judges are safe from attack. I understand the need for ensuring that people do not bring concealed weapons into court, but I really find it irritating that we have gone from one extreme to the other.

A few years ago the only security guard at the Court was an old guy who used to talk to people. I accept that if a full-scale brawl broke out he would not have been much good but his point was to talk to people so that brawls did not break out .I think its called de-escalation.

Don’t get me wrong, it’s not the security guards’ fault. They have been told by someone in Wellington what they must do, but I wonder why in this country we so often go from one position (one old security guard who yarns to people) to another position (five security guards, a scanner, no takeaway coffee) without considering whether there is anything in between.

Employers are already being inundated with people telling them they need to invest in sexual harrassment policies or their business will collapse. Before you spend thousands on this, give my team a call. As always, the sky may fall in but it probably won’t.