EMOTION VERSUS REASON

Bloody hell! Surely Colin Craig and Jordan Williams are not going to go another entertaining 15 rounds. They’d both be smart to call it a draw and walk away as I’m sure the key witness Rachel McGregor would certainly wish. Neither are wealthy and have already incurred huge legal bills from the month long first trial.

The Supreme Court has ruled the initial trial judge misdirected the jury, something the Judge conceded when she set aside the ridiculous $1.27m damages award for review.

All of this raised an interesting proposition. If a judge makes a mistake causing massive costs to litigants, while judges have immunity, surely the Justice Department ought be liable. Of course if the Judge had succumbed to an understandable temptation in this case, and pulled out a gun and murdered Craig she would face the consequences. But the fact is that not a week passes when the Crown, as the largest entity in the land, is not forking out because of a blunder of some sort.

One thing I’d bet heavily on and that’s if they do have a return bout then Williams wins hands-down.

I say that because if 12 Kiwi jurors after 4 weeks can come up with such a massive punitive sum, regardless of any misdirection, it’s odds on another jury would come to a similar result.

Of course suggesting both walk away is easy for me as an unaffected party for reason and pragmaticism rarely comes into play with libel cases. Instead, and understandably, emotion is the main driving force when people’s reputations are at stake.

Here’s a tale that sums it all up.

A few years ago in Sydney one sunny Sunday, I was a guest on a mate’s large launch for an all-day party bowling about the harbour. My mate was a prominent Sydney barrister and the eight other guests were all barristers, some up from Melbourne.

Late in the day, now berthed and everyone pretty much under the weather, one of the barristers, affecting a courtroom mode, announced loudly and slowly, emphasising each word, “Had-a-bit-of-a-windfall-last-week”.

The others, picking up the tone, all cried out in singsong unison, “Tell us, tell us, tell us”.

The narrator, now theatrically stony-faced, solemnly resumed. It went like this, again with a pause between each word for emphasis.

NARRATOR –       “Chap-came-in”.

BARRISTERS –     “Yes, yes, tell us”.

NARRATOR –       “Wanted-to-sue”.

BARRISTERS-      “Yes, yes, tell us, tell us”.

NARRATOR, loudly- “On principle”.

BARRISTERS –     “You lucky bastard”, and the narrator was warmly congratulated.

I was the only one not laughing.

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