Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Court rejects DNA rape

While the National government haggles with the Maori and Act parties over the half-good half-awful Criminal Procedure (Reform and Modernisation) Bill, it is worth revisiting an earlier Nat law making it a crime for arrestees not to produce a DNA sample. That's because the California Appeals Court has ruled the collection of DNA samples from arrestees as unconstitutional:
“What the DNA Act authorizes is the warrantless and suspicionless search of individuals, before a judicial determination of probable cause to believe they have committed a crime, for evidence of crime unrelated to that for which they have been arrested,” (.pdf) the court wrote. “The United States Supreme Court has never permitted suspicionless searches aimed at uncovering evidence of crime outside the context of convicted offenders.”
The law breaches the US Constitution's Fourth Amendment on unreasonable search and seizure. The New Zealand Bill of Rights 1990 echoes this protection in Section 21. Unlike the US Constitution, the NZ Bill of Rights is more of a carpet than a fence, so although against the spirit of freedom from state menaces, John Key and company can walk all over our sovereignty at their leisure.

A lot like some of the consequences of this Criminal Procedures Bill facing the minor support parties, where the accused loses the right to silence, and the Crown no longer has to prove their case based on their evidence by introducing agreed facts and other contrivances to diminish a fair trial.

The right to jury trials for imprisonable offences will shoot up from 3 months to 3 years. The Law Commission suggested this in their Delivering Justice for All paper from a while ago, but it was one of a sweeping range of reforms which the Nats have otherwise studiously ignored. Where's the decriminalisation of cannabis that they implicitly suggested? Where's the quid pro quo? Where's the balance?

Until the NZ Supreme Court can have a proper whack at all these repugnant Nat laws (Stripping the vote from all prisoners, DNA testing arrestees), it is up to the Maori and Act parties to hold back the whole damn sausage factory legal system, whereby the ones who hire a flash lawyer win and the rest don't have a chance.