7 October 2010

ACADEMIC IDOL UPDATE: Grand Final week

It's the Grand Final this week – in fact the final day of voting today.   I managed to squeak into the Final Two.  Me against a guy from Psych.


THIS WEEK'S QUESTION
If you were going to commit a crime, which one would it be and how would you justify it to the public (if you get caught)?
Bonus question: Capybaras—yay or nay?

DEAN KNIGHT, LAW
"C'mon! You can't ask a legal academic that question. We believe in the Rule of Law! Well, perhaps. Maybe. Or maybe only one or two of the different conceptions of the Rule of Law…
Anyways, the whole point about being a smarty-pants lawyer is we know what's illegal and what's not. And we know how to argue about the grey areas in order to avoid being convicted. No need to justify anything if you don't commit the crime.
- Parking in a loading zone (Land Transport (Road User) Rule 2004, r 6.4)—not a crime after 6pm, unless the sign says "At All Times".
- Urinating in a public place (Summary Offences Act 1981, s 32)—not a crime if you reasonably believe no-one can see you.
- Drinking booze in a liquor ban zone (Local Government Act 2002, s 147)—the Police first have to analyse and prove the liquor is more than 1.15% strong.
- Stealing a baby's identity to get a false passport (Tough on Crime Act 2010, s23)—you're immune if you're a member of the Sensible Sentencing Trust.
- Breaching any law of the land in the name of the earthquake recovery effort (Canterbury Earthquake Response and Recovery Act 2010, s 6)—not if you have a note excusing you written by Lord Gerry VIII…

And Capybaras? Meh. I have no opinion. I have no beef with big rodents that swim in water. But, really, is that the last word from the Island of Academic Idol? Capybaras? Sigh."

So that's it. If you reckon I have done enough to Outwit, Outplay and Outlast (or Outspam?) – or just want to support the law guy – then you can text "Dean" to 027 CUSTARD (+64-27-287-8273) or editor@salient.org.nz; by 5pm Thu (NZT). Apparently you don't need to be at Vic to vote.


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Course Outline

Lord Justice Lawton in Maxwell v Department of Trade and Industry [1974] 2 All ER 122 said:

"From time to time ... lawyers and judges have tried to define what constitutes fairness. Like defining an elephant, it is not easy to do, although fairness in practice has the elephantine quality of being easy to recognise. As a result of these efforts a word in common usage has acquired the trappings of legalism: 'acting fairly' has become 'acting in accordance with the rules of natural justice', and on occasion has been dressed up with Latin tags. This phrase in my opinion serves no useful purpose and in recent years it has encouraged lawyers to try to put those who hold inquiries into legal straitjackets.... For the purposes of my judgment I intend to ask myself this simple question: did the [decision-maker] act fairly towards the plaintiff?"


This course examines the elephantine concept of fairness in the law, along with other contemporary legal issues.

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