A group of Robin Bain supporters has launched a petition to deny David Bain's application for compensation for time spent in jail for the alleged murders of five members of his family in 1995.
I have followed the David Bain case since I was a Kid. I have no opinion either way on the result of the case, but I do believe that justice has been served and the matter of innocence or guilt has been put to rest by the court.
This is my response to the counterspin website and petition which is being plugged in newspaper ads all over New Zealand today.
What struck me with this new campaign was how little credibility the arguments put forward have.
The site implies there are still questions about Bain's innocence even though the a jury has given its verdict. On top of this, the site rants about Joe Karam's involvement and seems to confuse Karam and Bain as a single entity in many cases.
My take on CounterSpin
(quoted from counterspin in italics)
I have always been of the opinion that if you have to start an article with;
"Honest belief and opinion",
it is probably because the facts surrounding an opinion don't support the argument behind it. This opener is also a desperate attempt to say 'please don't sue me for criticizing you Joe Karam'.
"This site has been put together to counter the spin surrounding David Bain that has been publicly promoted over the past decade or more by Joe Karam in his insistence that David is innocent of the murder of his family. In the retrial of 2009 certain elements unique to this case have produced a result that is unlikely to reflect the truth."
"The Not Guilty verdict in the retrial was obtained through prolonged and persistent promotion and persuasion of one side of the argument rather than a balanced judgment based on the evidence."
If you really wanted to counter the spin what were you doing when Karam was doing his prolonged persuasion? It's not your fault the police disgraced their investigation and that the media and Karam jumped on it and rode the story all the way to the retrial. A last ditch attempt.
This is where the argument goes from flimsy to limp;
"Some might argue that a jury verdict is the end of it and that we should simply move on, out of respect for the defendant's legal status of 'innocent until proven guilty', and also because it is potentially defamatory to suggest that David Bain is guilty. However:"
Innocent until proven guilty? I thought that was for people facing charges? He has been found not guilty. There are no charges pending and the investigation is closed. It would seem straws are being grasped at to qualify that remark.
"Joe Karam used defamatory statements about a now deceased victim of the murders to help win his case and our law currently does not allow families to sue for defamation on behalf of dead people. This situation seems highly anomalous and perhaps in need of rectifying."
Can't defame the dead, whether or not some one questions the law's validity. It is the law. In that alone this point loses its strength and credibility for any argument against Bain and potential compensation. That and Bain, who is the one applying for compensation, was not the person 'defaming the dead'.
"In light of the above, Joe Karam did not hesitate to file defamation suits against people who published unsubstantiated material about him, and has created an atmosphere of constant threat in the media which has had the effect of stifling constructive criticism of his campaign."
It is Karam's right to defend his reputation against unsubstantiated defamatory material published about him. Your 'atmosphere of constant threat' is merely supposition and you have offered no evidence to support it.
"Joe Karam defied a request from the Solicitor General in 2007 not to publicly discuss the case, by reprinting one of his books."
So was that a request? Was there any legal weight behind the request? If it was a request then there is nothing wrong with his approach.
"Joe Karam has persistently defied the general rule of sub judice by publicly promoting his ideas and opinions about the case in an attempt to win over the population to his cause. The outcome of the trial attests to his success in that endeavour, but do we want our justice system to be run like this? None of his books, media appearances or promotional pamphlets are a necessary part of the legal system for obtaining a retrial. In fact they are in contempt of the judicial process, and we should not be rewarding people who obtain legal outcomes via such a method."
This just makes me laugh. Karam has not defied sub judice as I understand the law (someone please correct me if I am wrong). When Karam was out on the campaign trail, Bain was guilty in the eyes of the law there was no trial pending which Karam could sway with his opinion. Other than that I can't make sense of what you are trying to say in this sentence. Are you saying we should stifle free speech? Because that is what would happen if we stopped people talking about trials after the verdict is handed in.
"Joe Karam would need to answer to all of the above before he can expect other people to answer to supposedly defamatory opinions about David Bain's legal status."
I think you have your wires crossed. While you might like this to happen, I think it is misguided to think that these questions warrant answering. I don't think the law will stop and answer your questions before proceeding against defamatory comments about Bain.
"There also remains the question of compensation, and if this goes ahead then more than a million dollars of taxpayer money could be handed out to a person whom 29% of the population think is guilty, according to A UMR poll of June 2009, and which stands as one of the worst mass murders in NZ history."
So are we deciding these things on polls now? So what then of the 71% who don't have an opinion or believe him innocent? Does the majority not matter? (I guess if the smacking referendum is anything to go by it doesn't)
"As a result of an agreement made in 1996, Joe Karam will receive half of any compensation paid out to David Bain. He may be on a campaign for justice but he is also lining his own pockets in the process, thank-you very much to you, the taxpayer. In many ways Joe Karam has made David Bain a career strand and is endeavouring to make as much money out of the case as he can."
I think the matter of where the compensation goes is for Bain to choose.. As Bain is not guilty in the eyes of the law, and he served time for the crime he was later found not guilty of, then he deserves to be compensated. Karam poured his life into the campaign and I am sure a lot of money. Maybe giving him half is Bain's way thanking him.
I became aware of this story after reading an article on the TV3 News Website