Disgusted to be a New Zealander (RIP Greg King)

Greg King in court.

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.


26 comments on “Disgusted to be a New Zealander (RIP Greg King)

  1. You’re absolutely correct that thoughts should be with Mr King’s family and friends at this point. It’s true that this is a massive blow to New Zealand’s legal brilliance – whether you agree with who he represented or not. This would have been a pretty awesome tribute to a man you greatly admire. It’s a pity you felt the need to resort to emotional manipulation to win points. Too many lawyers resort to this kind of framing to win cases, an abysmal and deceitful behaviour that should garners no (self) respect and continues to cause the exact backlash you’re trying to make a point of.

    • I assume you mean the title “Disgusted to be a New Zealander”?

      I named the post that partly because when I started the writing process I was beyond furious and I do feel I was genuinely disgusted to be in any way linked to people who would say these things. I kept this after I had finished writing the post and had calmed down a bit because I hope it will draw people toward the post and read it. I seriously want to ensure that people see this and rethink what they believe – definitely about Greg King, but also, to some degree, about the legal profession in general.

      Thank you for your comment. I do appreciate it.

      • Kudos to you for a respectful response.

        I support your right to express your feeling of dismay and disgust toward the way fellow New Zealanders have behaved. Just to clarify, it was not the title, it was part of the content. While I support you wholly in almost all of what you said, once the article broke into “what if this was you wrongly accused?” scenarios, a strong feeling of being manipulated came to mind. Framing is insidious, the media rely on it, in court many lawyers resort to it.

        While I absolutely support any person’s right to legal defense, no matter how disgusted I am in what they’ve been accused of, I am horrified by the amount of drama, red herrings, emotional manipulation, and framing of the victim that goes on. Without knowing exactly CC’s motivation for writing comments, my broad assumption would be something similar to mine. It’s one thing to defend someone, it’s another to dissect the victim and every little thing they’ve ever done, so that even if provocation (or other dishonest arguments) isn’t a defense, that’s the seed of thought planted into the minds of the jurors.

        I truly do not understand how a profession meant to be based on fact and removal of emotion, can turn into the embarrassing manipulative grandstanding that we witness from lawyers in some cases.

        The points you were making about the behaviour of others, entirely accurate. Resorting to the above type of point making, it’s going to incite the people who do clean up the mess left by perpetrators, and have witnessed lawyers relying on a defense of playing mind games with jurors to get them off the hook. Sliding in a comment about the police being to blame for not doing their jobs properly, ugh. Shifty blaming is never a good argument.

        “Persuasive” is a funny word isn’t it? It doesn’t actually mean honest, ethical, or fair, which surely a lawyer is obliged to be. Stick to your point, don’t deviate, don’t use red herrings, don’t use emotive techniques, be authentic – but now lawyers are trained to use the exact opposite techniques to win.

        Good work on the rest of the article, I thought it was a really good tribute to a man you and so many others greatly admire and respect.

      • Ah, thank you for clarifying that.

        I used that hypothetical to explain that not every person who is accused is guilty, and to say that defense lawyers are evil just because they are defending people accused of these crimes is wrong. It was a “sure, the victims don’t feel great, but think about the falsely accused too”

        I can understand how the use of the word persuasive can cause people to think the legal profession is about winning cases and not getting to the truth. However, intrinsic to the legal profession is that a lawyers duty is, in the first instance to the court, and in the second instance to their client. We use the word persuasive rather than honest, ethical or fair because it is assumed that a lawyer will be those things, and not doing so is not only bringing the legal profession into disrepute, but also is a breach of a lawyer’s duty to the court. If those things are proven, a lawyer would almost certainly be disbarred.

        I can assure you, lawyers are not trained to be dishonest, unethical or unfair.

        Also, your point about blaming the Police – you’ll note I did say that I wouldn’t actually blame anyone. I guess blame was the wrong word to use though. The cause of it would be police not finding the evidence required for a conviction or a Crown prosecutor not proving the accused guilty – that probably would have been a more accurate description of what I was trying to say. I am not trying to disrespect the work the Police do at all. I do, in fact, have a huge respect for the Police. They do an important job that I know I wouldn’t be able to do.

        Thanks again for the comment, Margaret.

  2. Great post Daniel. I too am disgusted by the behaviour on social media sites, specifically when events like this happen.

    There are a few really high profile lawyers in NZ. And Greg King definitely rates among the top of them. Some use the “we all know he did it” argument. Knowing something, and **proving** it are very different matters. And Court is all about proof, not “knowing”.

    Some of the people being defended are clearly horrible people. But they still deserve the right to be defended. Any argument other than that means any one of us could be arrested and imprisoned without cause or question or trial.

    I did not know Greg King. All I knew of him was what I saw on TV and what I read about. And that person is one of utmost integrity and passion. One who believes in the fundamentals of fairness. The loss of such a person makes the world a lesser place.

  3. After attending a high profile court case where 3 Policemen were found not guilty of rape – because they weren’t – I completely changed my few on defense lawyers. It educated me. It is the ill informed, the uneducated the gossips who actually need to be on a slow boat to china with some media on board with them. Great respectful blog. Greg was a very good persona and it is a huge lost to the justice in NZ and probably the world, that Greg is no longer with us to protect some of us. BUT the loss will be greater to his family and friends. RIP Greg KING! ( Aptly named)

  4. What a lot of people don’t realise is that in order for a a criminal to be prosecuted, they have a right to a lawyer. Therefore without criminal defence lawyers such as Greg King, we would not be able to prosecute people like Clayton Weatherston. The role criminal defence lawyers play in society cannot be underestimated.

    Thoughts Daniel?

    • I agree, that is a very good point. Though, the argument most people seem to make is that these people should just be locked up indefinitely, without a trial, because they’re clearly scum given they were arrested… Probably one of the more nonsensical arguments people can make, but it’s a common one…

  5. Let’s not forget Sophie Elliot had a family, instead of abusing them they deserved respect.

    The likes of King do everything they can to stop the victims getting a fair trial or justice, thats what’s disgusting.

    If you were a victim (actually all decent members of society are victims of these smug liars) of legalised abuse you wouldn’t love them so much.

    They are devoid of conscience and laugh at those who care about truth and real justice.

    • What would you prefer? That there is no trial and someone is imprisoned indefinitely just because the Police accused them? That’s like a game of Cluedo where the winner is the first person who decides to accuse someone, whether they did it or not.

      You seem to forget that in the Clayton Weatherston trial, it was the judge who allowed to use of the provocation defense. If it was so far-fetched, the judge should have not allowed the use of it.

      Victims don’t get fair trials because the accused is the one of trial, not the victims and their families. Sure, it might seem that the victims are at times, but the victims and their families can leave the courtroom if something distresses them. The accused doesn’t have that freedom.

      If I was the victim of crime and the person I thought committed the crime was found not guilty, I wouldn’t blame the defense lawyer for daring to do their job. Because I understand the legal system and how it works, I doubt I would blame anyone in that situation. However, if I were to blame someone, it would be the Police for not finding the evidence required to have a successful prosecution, or the Crown prosecutor who didn’t prove the accused to be guilty.

      Someone who says the accused does not deserve a fair trial is who is devoid of conscience. “Truth and real justice”, as you put it, comes from going through the due process. It doesn’t come from the court of public opinion.

  6. Are you kidding me ??

    Victims, particularly women, are always put on trial, even when they are dead and not there to defend themselves. Their killers have armies of tax payer funded lawyers while the victims get virtually nothing.

    The abuse in court if often more traumatic that the original abuse and these lawyers love it, they get a thrill from seeing the pain in their victims eyes. Of course judges are as bad they are from the same gang.

    They way abusing women in court is has become a game for these sociopaths is what you should be concerned about.

    King didn’t care about the additional and unnecessary grief and pain he inflicted on the Elliot family now they expect compassion they never gave to their victims and people are naive enough to give it to them.

    Most rape and abuse is never reported because the victims know what thy will get.

    Phil Cleary has some more realistic and decent observations about ‘justice’ than you, I suggest you look into it.

    These celebrity abusers love it, that’s why they seek out the cases where they can insult decency the most. They hide behind claims of caring about justice and you fall for it.

    Living vicariously through their friends (clients) they love them, and have contempt for the truth and all decent people.

    • The legal profession gets some pretty inaccurate claims made about it, but I don’t think I have seen anything more inaccurate than what you have said.

      Our legal system is based on it being better that 100 guilty people be found not guilty than a single innocent person be imprisoned. Prison is a brutal place, and it’s even worse for someone who knows they didn’t do what they’re being accused of. I am proud to be part of a society that considered that in the way it formed it’s legal system.

      I’ll ask again, what would you prefer? Do you honestly think that every person who is accused of a crime is actually guilty? If you don’t, then please think before you comment again. If not every person who is accused of a crime is guilty, then surely the defense lawyer who you are slandering are doing a very important job, Greg King included.

  7. Cc you are entirely wrong. Not everyone must understand the court system in all it’s complexities, but at least have the common decency to educate yourself slightly on the matter before commenting.

    Greg King’s job is not to defend the undefendable, that is crimes like murder. It is to ensure the ideals on which democracy is founded are upheld. Ideal’s like the rule of law, the separation of powers, freedom and liberty. Greg did this by defending people accused of crimes, acts which society and State have decided deserve the deprivation of freedom, amongst other things. To deprive a citizen of freedom they must pass laws, democratically, which allow the State, in very specific circumstances, the ability to do so. By mounting a defence, lawyers do not defend the crime, they ensure that those seeking to deprive citizens of freedom and liberty do not do so arbitrarily. They must abide by the law as well.

    With out this important check on the vast powers of the State, abuses by the arm of the law would become rife. Do you want New Zealand to become a militant country with the police exercising their powers against innocent people at a whim? I bet then you would like a man like Greg King on your side.

    Greg King was a brave man, who had to deal with the worst in society, so that we might all have our liberty protected. We all owe him and people like him a great debt. Without these champions of democracy and freedom, society would be a far more treacherous and perilous place.

    Do not let your ignorance cloud your judgement. Victims deserve justice, they deserve the full love and support of society, no one debates that. But do not confuse the criminal and the defender, one is bad, one is good. One deserves the scorn of society, the other deserves its praise.

    Remember: “He who would trade liberty for some temporary security, deserves neither liberty nor security.” – Benjamin Franklin

    • IE – This is a pretty textbook example of a response with liberal scatterings of framing and manipulation. It’s designed to “scare” with suggestions that democracy is in jeopardy and CC will bring on a militant country. There’s no authenticity by this author, just discounting, manipulation, and name calling. It’s significantly more dangerous in tone and intent than the people behaving inappropriately toward Mr King.

      • You’re entitled to your opinion Margaret, but I don’t think you are correct. What do you think the founding fathers where so concerned about when they were writing? You have offered no response to my remarks. All you have given is a what you accuse me of doing.

        Please explain how is is more dangerous in tone? How is it manipulating?

        I apologise if my response came across slightly more impassioned than I intended, but my comments still stand.

  8. Spot on Daniel. Anyone directing their anger at Mr. King clearly has no understanding of the the legal system and its underlying purposes

  9. Ahhh anyone who doesn’t agree with you is ignorant and uneducated …… really…. Ad-homemen…. I’ll let you correct my spelling……

    Maybe I have rather more experience than you (how about that for an idea) lthough in your world I am sure you consider yourself oh so smart ant sophisticated.

    As for the nonsense of do I think all accused are guilty, that would be a staw man, now let’s have the slippery slope as well.

    There are a couple of books about the injustice for women think one is called Defending Eve…… If you ever listen to BBC Radio 4 you may have heard an interview with the author.

    • Given I don’t know you, I have no idea if you have “rather more experience” than me. Quite frankly, I don’t really care whether you do or don’t. What I do care about is that you are completely incorrect in your assertions about the legal profession and about Greg King.

      I’m assuming from that response that you don’t assume all accused are guilty. I therefore stand by my comment – surely defense lawyers do a brilliant job and should be respected and admired as such.

      Yes, I do listen to BBC Radio 4 on occasion, though I can’t say I have heard an interview with the author. I am not saying justice is a concept that is always found, but people like Greg King aren’t the cause of that. They are the people trying to ensure there is justice.

  10. Excellent tribute to a man who should be commended for a successful, and likely ‘trying’ career. I am also dismayed by some people’s responses. For those disagreeing with the author of this blog natural justice is an integral part of the rule of law, and is founded on a fair trial. This is what democracy is about. God forbid any critic’s family member or friends are ever put on trial and not given the chance to defend themselves. If they were required to defend themselves more court time and money would be required to facilitate trials as lawyers experience and legal understanding speeds up the process. As has been mentioned, lawyers have an obligation and duty to be honest. If they are not, and they are caught, they will face similar repercussions as the Auckland lawyer Graeme Hart. Police have also been found guilty of framing on occasion, yet few people would suggest that all police are ‘bad.’

  11. Well said Daniel, I have a feeling there might be some foul play involved. Every article is see is quick to mention that the police do not regard the death as being suspicious. Well, when a top criminal defence lawyer who has been involved in many controversial cases is found dead beside his car at age 43 I find that to be a little suspicious

    • Given what has been said so far, I expect it will have been something to do with his diabetes. He has said he was struggling to manage it, and it’s not too far-fetched that he went into a diabetic coma. Hopefully, whatever it was, he didn’t suffer too much. Brilliant man.

  12. Just so everyone is aware, I am actively moderating all comments on this post – something I always have done on this blog. I am not accepting comments speculating on what caused Greg Kings death, nor am I accepting comments that could be in any way defamatory – and there have been a few of both.

    And honestly, if you expect me to accept a comment where you are actively defaming ME, you’re out of your mind.

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