THE ATTITUDE OF THE JUDICIARY
"Anybody who understands the justice system knows innocent people are convicted every day."
~ Fla. Supreme Court Justice Gerald Kogan (Ret.)
In Scott Watson’s trial there was much evidence submitted to the effect that Scott was not nice. Normally this sort of evidence is not admissible at trial unless it has some specific relation to the charges that have been laid. The trial judge’s rulings on the admissibility of this evidence said that it was to the effect of identification. This "identification evidence" was hardly required, as Scott had said in his very first statement that he was at Furneaux Lodge on the night in question. He never at any stage denied this. It was never in question. There was no need for "identification evidence" to show that he was there that evening or for that matter the week before (the Momerangi Bay evidence) other than to show him in as bad a light as possible.
The judge was in control of all of this evidence and he shaped the trial as he saw fit. Late in the trial when things were not looking too good for the prosecution he allowed in further prejudicial evidence, previously disallowed, to he said, establish "motive". This evidence, to the effect that Scott had stated that he intended to kill someone (no one in particular) was suggestive enough to completely prejudice the jury. The judge controlled this aspect of the trial and while not one bit of this evidence really related to the charges and one of the witnesses related a conversation that was said to have occurred over a year before the alleged offense. One of the witnesses was recalled by the judge after smiling and waving to the Hope and Smart families. Another, the husband of the first, actually went and sat with them after giving his evidence. And of course all three of them had their names suppressed by the judge.
There was another witness early in the trial who had been socializing with Scott aboard a boat There was an exchange between them and the woman replied to a remark by Scott, "My name is Susan (name changed) you wanker" What Scott had said to her was suppressed by the judge, leaving the impression that it must have been a particularly obscene remark. What Scott said to her was, "Hey bag lady have you got a light?" (She carried a large handbag in which she kept her lighter). Hardly the shocking statement that could have been inferred by the fact of it having been suppressed.
All of this is to illustrate that the judge is in complete control of the trial and the tone that is set for the jury. An insight into his attitude was displayed in a newspaper article by Cate Brett of Christchurch. When she writes: "Justice Heron replaces his teacup on its saucer, remarking that despite the hundreds of thousands of words devoted to the deaths of Olivia Hope and Ben Smart, nobody in his view, has quite captured the full pathos of the story. Underlying the dense deposits of circumstantial evidence which finally led him to sentence 28 year old Scott Watson to life imprisonment last September, lay, he suggests, the tragic untold story of young love brutally cut short. This statement by the trial judge while demonstrably wrong in fact surely throws his impartiality into doubt. If he had attained this Mills and Boon attitude before the end of the trial, and remember he had seen all of the evidence before the trial and was in a position to bend the conduct of the trial to his will.
At no stage of the trial, or for that matter the police investigation, were the pair described as anything but friends and while this may be a slight white wash there was certainly little "love" involved, except in the broadest sense. For the judge to have obtained this impression is frightening.
Also frightening was his tirade when sentencing Scott to a non-parole period of seventeen years (symbolic of Olive Hope’s age he says). His diagnosis of Scott as a psychopathic killer was based on no evidence at all. There had been no psychiatric report and the only person entitled to order one was Judge Heron himself. He did not. A judge is supposed to be impartial. There is ample evidence to show that this one was not.
The Two Trip Theory