Today, a person who was, in my opinion, New Zealand’s greatest ever defense lawyer, died.
Greg King, was counsel in some very high profile cases, such as that of Clayton Weatherston and, more recently, the Scott Guy murder trial. If you look at a lot of the controversial criminal trials of the past decade, a surprising number of these trials have had Greg King representing the defense. When looking for clients, Greg King didn’t check the bank account of the accused first. He had the policy that if someone asked for his assistance, if he had space in his schedule, he would represent them. His commitment to the ideal of justice was almost unparalleled.
As a law student, if I were to move into the field of law at the end of my degree, I certainly would consider Greg King a person I want to model myself by.
When word started coming out that Greg King had passed away, around about 6pm, news websites posted on their social media profiles about it. Some of the comments that have been on these profiles are, quite frankly, disgraceful. One person said on the 3 News Facebook page, “Well one less person protecting the murdering bastards! :-)”, another on the ONE News page saying it was “Karma”. There was a number of other comments that were similar. Thankfully, both ONE News and 3 News have had the decency to remove most of these comments.
People forget that Greg King had a wife, who is no doubt in pieces right now. He had two very young children who, in the best case scenario, don’t understand what has happened and, in the worst case scenario, are frightened, confused and grieving. He had other friends and family who have lost someone very close to them.
Can people not educate themselves, instead of abusing the memory of a brilliant man? Our justice system is based on a number of ideals. The most well-known of these is that everyone is considered innocent until proven guilty. However, there’s also the ideal that it’s better for 100 people who are guilty to be let off than have one innocent person imprisoned.
Greg King didn’t decide whether his clients were guilty or not guilty. He put forward a legal argument, which was responded to by the Crown prosecutor. Where his client was found guilty, the Crown prosecutor gave the more persuasive legal argument. Where his client was found not guilty, Greg King gave the more persuasive legal argument.
People also need to remember, the media isn’t telling you every piece of evidence. Sometimes, that one piece of evidence that sounds so very incriminating when isolated doesn’t actually sound so bad when you put it in the full context. Consider this. “Steven punched Amy.” That sounds like a guy is assaulting a girl, right? Now, if I add a context, “Steven punched Amy during their boxing match.” That’s not so bad, is it?
Consider this scenario. What if you had been at some sort of event at a bar. A lot of people were intoxicated and can’t really remember who they were with and when. You go to the bathroom – the bartender notices you leaving the bathroom after you have finished. Not long later, someone comes out of the bathroom screaming. There’s a dead body in the bathroom. When the police interview people, none of them can definitely remember when it was they were talking to you. The bartender tells police that he remembers you walking out of the bathroom not long before the body was found. You are arrested and charged with murder. You didn’t murder the person, but the Police and Crown prosecutor are so very sure you did. The media is reporting that you were seen leaving the bathroom. They’re even talking to “eye witnesses” who say they think they may have seen blood on your hands at one point, but they can’t be sure. Should your lawyer not represent you, just because all the evidence points toward you? Should your lawyer leave your case, simply because the public sentiment is that you’re a murderer?
Greg King wasn’t an evil person, determined that murders be let free. He was a good person who believed in the ideals of justice, and wanted to ensure that this concept could be reached. Rather than blindly abusing the man at a, quite frankly, inappropriate time, why not learn what our justice system involves? Why not find out what a lawyer ACTUALLY does – and believe me, the public opinion of lawyers really isn’t accurate at all. Most of all, why not let Greg King’s family and friends grieve without your crap? I’m sure most of his family and friends will have Facebook accounts. It’s disgusting that the memory of such a brilliant man should be trampled on by such ignorant buffoons.