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tigtog (aka Viv) is the founder of this blog. She lives in Sydney, Australia: husband, 2 kids, cat, house, garden, just enough wine-racks and (sigh) far too few bookshelves.

5 Responses

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  1. LizBee
    LizBee at |

    I’d totally buy that that’s the case.

    I work as a court transcriber, and occasionally I deal with Family Court cases where an obvious abuser, being self-represented, is in the position of cross-examining his* ex-partner. It’s always very uncomfortable.

    (* I say “his” because I’ve never yet encountered a case where the female partner takes on this role)

  2. SunlessNick
    SunlessNick at |

    I can easily believe it being his plan.

  3. tigtog
    tigtog at |

    Oops just replied here instead of the Gervais thread, and utterly inappropriately. Removed that comment now.

    It’s too easy for abusers to re-victimise their accusers by taking advantage of this aspect of the system. But I don’t know how to fix this bit without breaking some rather fundamental rights for the accused that I totally support in other situations.

  4. tigtog
    tigtog at |

    Maybe if a pattern emerges that disgusted juries always convict arsehats who abuse this right in order to further traumatise their accusers, it might not become too common.

  5. Jo Tamar
    Jo Tamar at |

    This issue came up very publicly in NSW in relation to the Skaf cases (the gang rapes about which there was a lot of publicity about 5 years ago).

    A couple of the accuseds dumped their lawyers and cross-examined one of the complainants. There was a media shitstorm.

    As a result, section 294A of the Criminal Procedure Act 1986 (NSW) was enacted (you’ll need to scroll down at the link; for some reason, the url which should link directly to the section isn’t working).

    In summary, this provision prohibits a person who is accused of a sexual offence from cross-examining the complainant. If the accused is unrepresented, hir questions have to be put through another person, who is appointed by the court.

    I agree with tigtog’s reservations about a system which does not allow an unrepresented accused to ask hir own questions (even where the questions sie would ask are still being put to the complainant) – and they were widely discussed at the time. However, I do think this is better than a system which allows an unrepresented accused to use the system to further damage a complainant.

    Note also that in NSW (and Australia generally), serious sexual offences are the sort for which you can generally get legal aid, if you are otherwise eligible, so an accused person who is unrepresented has probably chosen to be unrepresented. For me, that is an important factor in thinking that section 294A of the Criminal Procedure Act is an acceptable balance.

    I should add that I’m not sure how it actually works in practice – not my area – but I suspect that most people accused of these sorts of offences are legally represented in any case.

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