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Judge refuses to accept character witness statements



  • Registered Users Posts: 82,249 ✭✭✭✭Overheal

    Seems appropriately measured with caveats, can't see a problem with the convicted persons civil rights being violated if they can still appear.

  • Site Banned Posts: 12,341 ✭✭✭✭Faugheen

    Proper f*cking order. Sick of hearing these 'sure he's a grand lad and was heavily involved with the GAA' statements which are never stood up to scrutiny.

    If you're going to speak of the good character of someone who has committed heinous crimes then you should do so on the stand and have to face cross-examination.

  • Registered Users Posts: 7,600 ✭✭✭Floppybits

    I have no problem with character references per se for people who have committed a first offence such as doing something stupid when drunk and genuinely regretting it. But when it comes to crimes such as those in the article then yes the person writing the character reference should be made come to court and be cross examined. It should be for all serious crimes such as all sex crimes, murder and serious assaults.

  • Registered Users Posts: 13,912 ✭✭✭✭Potential-Monke

    Let's not make it two tiered. All character witnesses for every case should attend court to testify. End of. Good call by the judge (for once).

  • Registered Users Posts: 25,075 ✭✭✭✭Strumms

    Imagine being the sort of person who’d be a character witness for a person who’d do that.

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  • Registered Users Posts: 14,734 ✭✭✭✭elperello

    I'd have no issue with the references being presented in court by the witness's but I wonder what would be the nature of any cross examination?

    Given that nobody would put anything in the reference that was untrue for fear of the consequences I'd imagine the cross examinations would prove to be of little value.

  • Posts: 0 [Deleted User]

    The same judge flagged this a few weeks ago as coming, looks like it's a directive from the court of appeal so it's going to be the norm going forward

    Justice Keane said that a recent dictum from the Court of Criminal Appeal suggested that anyone who wishes to provide a character reference to the court should be in court and available for cross-examination.

  • Registered Users Posts: 25,839 ✭✭✭✭Mrs OBumble

    The worst child-abusers build their reputation to include excellent relationships with adults, precisely because it stops suspicion.

    Some of those adults won't have a clue and will genuinely believe that genuinely (whoever) is a great lad. They will think he's not capable of what he's accused of.

  • Registered Users Posts: 18,957 ✭✭✭✭Del2005

    The prosecution could ask questions that show the person isn't as good as the reference said they are. It could also potentially show that the person giving the character reference isn't a good person.

  • Registered Users Posts: 14,734 ✭✭✭✭elperello

    Being that these references are only produced post conviction the question of whether the convicted person is guilty or not has already been settled.

    The person providing the reference is not on trial they are only testifying in reference to their personal knowledge of the convicted person.

    It would appear possible this is being used to discourage people from giving references.

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  • Registered Users Posts: 13,912 ✭✭✭✭Potential-Monke

    That sounds like a logical conclusion. So, in that case, character references shouldn't be a thing. Allow it for nobody. Sorted. If you want people to believe you're not a bad person, don't do bad things. Simples.

  • Registered Users Posts: 7,600 ✭✭✭Floppybits

    When do character references come into play in court, is it during the trial or at sentencing? Do they carry much weight?

  • Posts: 0 [Deleted User]

    Good, some priests and GAA clubs might think twice now.

  • Registered Users Posts: 3,339 ✭✭✭Tork

    I heard a discussion about this on the radio a while ago. They don't seem to carry much weight at all.

    I'm glad to hear they're finally bringing people to task over these references because they're particularly objectionable. Leaving aside the nature of their crimes and what their victims had to go through, there's no way anybody can genuinely give a reference for an offender. The nature of many sexual predators is that they are good at hiding this awful side of their character. How well can any of us ever know people who orbit in our circles?

  • Registered Users Posts: 5,273 ✭✭✭xxxxxxl

    I can Imagine CW if you punched someone but these crimes. What are they gonna say there a lovely person would never hurt a fly. I mean what could you possible say in this case as a CW ?

  • Registered Users Posts: 16,526 ✭✭✭✭y0ssar1an22

    without having thought this through too much, i would do away with them altogether. let the evidence speak for itself. you are being judged for the crime only.

  • Registered Users Posts: 5,273 ✭✭✭xxxxxxl

    It makes sense in some cases. But where a level of premeditation goes in I would get rid of them. No one wakes up and decides to do these crimes. Even in Cases where the person has been found not guilty I think it just muddies the water. Evidence only for Sex crimes.

  • Registered Users Posts: 20,158 ✭✭✭✭El_Duderino 09

    That's exactly what I was thinking. If they want to get rid of the statements, then they should so that.

    I presume the ability to give the reference without appearing was to ensure equality.

    But seriously. If you were friends with someone who turned out to be a convicted sex offender, who would give them a character reference? How would you show your face in town again after giving a positive character reference for someone who did that?

  • Registered Users Posts: 1,003 ✭✭✭Random sample

    Your comment brought this case to mind. Aside from lining up to shake his hand, some went on the radio afterwards to continue their defence of his good character. Sickening.

  • Registered Users Posts: 648 ✭✭✭Irelandsnumberone

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  • Registered Users Posts: 26,973 ✭✭✭✭Dempo1

    One could be forgiven for Niavity when given a character reference but my word you'd have to question what these people in this particular case where thinking.

    The problem as I see it , like the poor Box and charitable donations (which in the case of the poor box, I thought had stopped, open to correction) , there's too much ambiguity around mitigations and "Alternatives" .

    Obviously a Judge has to be seem to be objective and fair but if the defence is permitted to submit character references and people take the time to write them, they should be prepared to back up and explain these references in court. Excellent decision by the Judge.

    For far to long and in particular public representatives have submitted outlandish character references without being called out to explain themselves and justify said references.

    Is maith an scáthán súil charad.

  • Administrators, Entertainment Moderators, Social & Fun Moderators, Society & Culture Moderators Posts: 18,722 Admin ✭✭✭✭✭hullaballoo

    As a lawyer I always felt these character references were of dubious value anyway. No seasoned judge would be paying them much heed in sentencing. They might get a nod in sentencing remarks but I doubt they have ever had much of an impact on the actual sentence.

    Cross-examination of any witness giving evidence that's in dispute is an option in all adversarial litigation so it's a reasonable enough development (to call it that) that if there's something in a character reference the State disputes, it should be open to have the person cross-examined.

  • Registered Users Posts: 709 ✭✭✭foxsake

    it is possible to find the guilty partys crime abhorrent and still give a fair reflection on the positives in their lives.

  • Registered Users Posts: 648 ✭✭✭Irelandsnumberone

    Gone very quiet on this thread once i mentioned this

  • Registered Users Posts: 4,891 ✭✭✭skimpydoo

    I was about to mention it too and it's funny how things went quiet after it was mentioned.

  • Registered Users Posts: 40,291 ✭✭✭✭Gatling

    Gwan the parish .

    That's the mentality ,sure he didn't touch my kids he's a grand lad

  • Registered Users Posts: 13,912 ✭✭✭✭Potential-Monke

    I don't think that article has anything to do with it. Just no more of a discussion to be had, consensus seems to be the same among everyone.

  • Registered Users Posts: 648 ✭✭✭Irelandsnumberone

    Obvs not the people who voted this scumbag after he gave his character reference

  • Registered Users Posts: 13,912 ✭✭✭✭Potential-Monke

    Did they know he gave a reference before they voted him in? I'll be honest, I hate politics so I know very little about them.

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  • Registered Users Posts: 16,752 ✭✭✭✭Leg End Reject

    How are character references relevant if someone is convicted of violent crimes?

    "Ah sure they're a decent skin apart from the odd rape and murder." I find it bizarre.