Wednesday, March 28, 2012
Another blow to marriage in Britain?
Australia has had no-fault divorce for many years and it seems to work well. There are many amicable split-ups, which is surely the most desirable outcome
Senior judges yesterday renewed calls for no-fault divorces, as they attacked current laws as vastly outdated. At present, couples can be legally parted within six months if one party is shown to be at fault. The most common grounds are unreasonable behaviour, which can include committing adultery or devoting too much time to one’s career.
Leading family court judge Sir Nicholas Wall said: ‘I am a strong believer in marriage. But I see no good arguments against no-fault divorce.’ He added that divorce was in reality an ‘administrative’ process, rather than a legal one.
Another senior judicial figure, Lord Justice Thorpe, indicated his support for no-fault divorce in an Appeal Court ruling, arguing that the current laws ‘represent the social values of a bygone age’.
The twin assault comes at a time of deep controversy over the legal and political status of marriage.
David Cameron’s plans to allow marriage for same-sex couples were published this month, in the face of deep opposition from church figures.
A law removing the need for fault in divorces was passed by John Major’s Conservative government in 1996. It was backed by judges, lawyers, academics and charities – but opponents said it would encourage couples to break up.
Trials showed the Family Law Act 1996 to be unworkable, and Tony Blair’s government scrapped the plan to introduce no-fault divorces. Legal figures, however, have continued to lobby for them.
Sir Nicholas Wall, who as president of the High Court’s Family Division is the country’s most senior divorce court judge, said in a speech to family lawyers that he was a member of the Whitehall advisory group that backed the 1996 change.
‘At the moment, it seems to me we have a system – so far as divorce itself is concerned – which is in fact administrative, but which masquerades as judicial,’ he said.
‘No doubt this has its roots in history. In the 19th century, and for much of the 20th, divorce was a matter of social status. It mattered whether you were divorced or not, and if you were, it was important to demonstrate that you were the innocent party. All that, I think, has gone. Defended divorces are now effectively unheard of.’
In the case of Susan Rae, who believed minor disagreements had been wrongly interpreted as ‘unreasonable behaviour’, he said: ‘I feel the sadness of the wife’s position and her complete inability to accept what has happened to her.
‘Our laws of divorce have not been reformed since their introduction in 1969.’ He said the no-fault proposals would have meant that divorce petitions would no longer have to be justified through hurtful hearings designed to establish fault.
‘Had they been implemented, there would have been no need for these painful investigations, which now seem to represent the social values of a bygone age,’ he added.
Politicians and family experts yesterday warned against removing fault from divorce. Tory MP Julian Brazier said: ‘We already have no-fault divorce in all but name. The real issue is whether we need to reintroduce fault for the determination of child custody and division of resources.
‘If one partner abandons the other, that should be taken into account ..... When it comes to dividing possessions, it is extraordinary that no account is taken of adultery or other fault.’
Jill Kirby, who writes about family life, said: ‘The less the courts consider fault in divorce, the greater the sense of injustice felt by the spouse who thinks he or she was not to blame.’
Wife regrets destroying her marriage
This is the case referred to above
A woman whose husband of 20 years divorced her for unreasonable behaviour has hit out at the courts for allowing marriages to break up on ‘trivial’ grounds.
Susan Rae, 50, told an appeal hearing that her husband should never have been allowed to divorce her simply because she threw his packed lunches away and took a fuse out of the washing machine.
Alan Rae, 56, an assistant dean at the University of Northampton, was granted a decree nisi last year.
But Mrs Rae said the behaviour cited was ‘normal squabbling between a husband and wife’ and not proper grounds for a separation.
She broke down in tears yesterday, as she said the courts had ‘elevated’ examples of their ‘everyday family difficulties’ to the level of unreasonable behaviour.
She explained: ‘I didn’t want him to do the washing, and I didn’t want intensively farmed meat in the house. ‘I asked that of him and he ignored me for the whole 20 years. But these were our only two disagreements.’
She went on to say that her husband had only become so affected by these ‘everyday’ problems after he began suffering from depression, and that she had been accused of ‘unreasonable behaviour’ so the divorce could be rubber-stamped.
‘My reactions to my husband were always.... what any right-thinking person would consider reasonable,’ she said.
Lord Justice Thorpe admitted that he was sympathetic to Mrs Rae’s plight, but said it was clear that her marriage could not be saved.
Sarkozy bans imams from entering France in fundamentalist crackdown after Toulouse shootings
France is to ban radical Muslim preachers from entering the country as part of a crackdown after shootings by an al Qaeda-inspired gunman in Toulouse, President Nicolas Sarkozy said today.
The President said he would block the entry of some imams invited to an Islamic conference next month, organised by the Union of French Islamic Organisations (UOIF).
The UOIF, one of three Muslim federations in France, is regarded as close to Egypt's Islamist Muslim Brotherhood.
'I have clearly indicated that there certain people who have been invited to this congress who are not welcome on French soil,' Mr Sarkozy told France Info radio.
The crackdown follows the murder of seven people in Toulouse by Islamic extremist Mohammed Merah, 23.
The gunman shot down a Rabbi, three children and three soldiers in three separate attacks before being shot dead at the end of 32-hour police siege.
Following the shootings last week, Mr Sarkozy has announced plans to punish those viewing websites advocating Islamic extremism and going abroad for indoctrination or terrorist training.
One imam banned by the President is Sheikh Youssef al-Qaradawi, an Egyptian cleric based in Qatar who is one of the most prominent Sunni Muslim clerics in the Arab world and a household name in the Middle East due to regular appearances on the Al Jazeera news channel.
A former member of Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood, Qaradawi is independent of the group but remains close to it. Mr Sarkozy said the situation was complicated because the imam holds a diplomatic passport and does not require a visa to enter France.
'I indicated to the Emir of Qatar himself that this person was not welcome on the territory of the French republic,' Mr Sarkozy said. 'He will not come.'
Qaradawi was denied a visa to visit Britain in 2008 on grounds of seeking to 'justify acts of terrorist violence or disburse views that could foster inter-community violence', a Home Office spokeswoman said at the time.
The cleric had defended Palestinian suicide bombers in Israel and attacks on U.S.-led coalition forces in Iraq.
The killing spree by Merah has pushed security to the top of the political agenda.
Mr Sarkozy, campaigning for re-election, has rebutted criticism by opposition politicians that the security services blundered in allowing the 23-year-old, a petty criminal known to have visited Afghanistan twice, to shoot dead seven people in a ten-day rampage in southwest France.
'Here is a young criminal who suddenly becomes a very active terrorist without any transition. As far as we know there was no cell,' Mr Sarkozy said.
The legislation will have to wait until after a two-round April-May presidential election because the Socialist opposition has resisted an emergency session of parliament to approve them.
The more often you attend church services the happier you'll become, says survey
If you want to cheer yourself up, you could do a lot worse than attend church services, according to the findings of a recent poll. A Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index found that people who attend a church, synagogue, or mosque frequently report experiencing more positive emotions and fewer negative ones in general than do those who attend less often or not at all.
Frequent churchgoers experience an average of 3.36 positive emotions per day compared with an average of 3.08 among those who never attend. In other words, regular churchgoers seem to do better than non-churchgoers or occasional churchgoers in terms of their daily positive wellbeing experiences.
The U.S survey based its findings on more than 300,000 interviews.
The positive emotions include smiling and laughter, enjoyment, happiness, and learning or doing something interesting. Negative emotions include worry, sadness, stress, and anger.
Not only do Americans who attend a church, synagogue, or mosque frequently report having higher wellbeing in general, but they also get an extra boost to their emotional state on Sundays - while the rest of the nation sees a decline in their mood.
Heavens above: Going to church can have a positive effect on your emotions, according to new research
The average number of positive emotions frequent churchgoers report experiencing rises to a high of 3.49 for the week on Sundays, whereas for those who attend church monthly or less often, the average number peaks on Saturdays and declines to a range of 3.14 to 3.29 on Sundays. A similar pattern is evident for negative emotions.
Although reports of negative emotions decline on Saturdays for all the population in general, frequent churchgoers still report experiencing still fewer negative emotions on Sundays, while negativity increased on that day for those who attend church seldom or never.
Meanwhile, Sunday is the only day of the week when the moods of frequent churchgoers and those who do not attend a religious service often diverge in direction significantly.
Gallup church poll - days of the week
Australia: Clear evidence that the abandonment of double jeopardy can lead to gross abuses
We now see one reason why the double jeopady principle was entrenched British law for centuries. It's persecution the way the man below is being treated. When do the retrials stop? This could go on forever. At the very least only two trials should be permitted. I gather that the double jeopardy rule has been abandoned in Britain too
Five years ago, Philip Leung was found rocking from side to side at the foot of his stairs, cradling his blood-stained partner, Mario Guzzetti. A short time later, Mr Guzzetti was dead, having suffered head injuries.
Last week, Mr Leung, 51, broke down in the same stairwell after learning he would stand trial over his former lover's killing - for the third time.
At his original trial in 2009, Mr Leung was acquitted of murder after a judge directed the jury to find him not guilty.
The Crown, however, used NSW's controversial double jeopardy laws, introduced in 2006, to have the verdict quashed.
Mr Leung then faced court on a manslaughter charge last April, but became the first person in Australian legal history to be acquitted twice by a judge's directed verdict. As he left court that day, he said he was "finally free" to move on.
He was wrong. Last Tuesday, the unprecedented case took another twist: the NSW Court of Criminal Appeal upheld a second appeal by the Crown and ordered that Mr Leung again be tried for manslaughter.
According to uncontested facts referred to in the judgment by the appeal court, Mr Leung and his partner had been together since 2001, but a month before his death, Mr Guzzetti, 72, had told a friend he wanted to end the relationship because Mr Leung was becoming aggressive and frightening him. On the morning of April 7, Easter Eve in 2007, a neighbour heard two voices arguing at the couple's shared home in Alexandria, followed by a loud bang that resembled "a shelf falling, and pots and lids falling to the ground". She also later heard Mr Leung crying, "like roaring or having a tantrum". Almost an hour after the initial bang, Mr Leung called an ambulance, stating: "I had a fight with my friend and my friend dead."
When the first witnesses arrived at the scene, they found Mr Leung sitting at the bottom of the staircase. Holding Mr Guzzetti, he said to an acquaintance: "I want my Mario … Mario, wake up."
He told another friend: "We had an argument … I was making carrot juice and he [Mario] kept at me." Mr Guzzetti had stopped breathing before paramedics arrived and in an interview at Redfern Police Station that same day, Mr Leung could not recall the vital moments before his death. "We have breakfast, Mario argue with me. He criticise me a lot … and then my head starts spinning."
Mr Leung was charged with murder. At his trial in May 2009, the Crown alleged the couple argued while Mr Leung was making a carrot juice, resulting in him striking his lover with a bloodstained juicer that was found on the floor beside Mr Guzzetti's body, and also by applying additional pressure to his neck. However, crucial medical and scientific evidence proved inconclusive, with both a forensic pathologist and neuropathologist concluding Mr Guzzetti's blunt force head injuries were consistent with both a physical attack using the juice extractor - and a fall.
Equally, it was advised that bruising around the neck could have been the result of either force, or amateurish attempts at resuscitation. Consequently, Justice Stephen Rothman delivered a directed not-guilty verdict, ruling the Crown had failed to properly establish how Mr Guzzetti had died. In April last year, Justice Michael Adams reached the same conclusion, directing a second jury to find Mr Leung not guilty.
But on two occasions now, the Crown has utilised double jeopardy laws that permit appeals in homicide cases settled by a judge's directed verdict. In its latest appeal, the Crown pointed to the fact that prior to the second trial, Dr Paul Botterill, who had conducted the original autopsy, inspected the premises and staircase area where the death occurred. After that visit, he concluded the likelihood of the injuries being caused by falling from the top of the stairs - which change direction and feature a quarter landing - was at most a "theoretical possibility".
Mr Leung's lawyers, meanwhile, argued that with two Supreme Court judges having twice dismissed the case, a third retrial would "undermine community confidence in the criminal justice system". It was also pointed out that Mr Leung had "clearly suffered" following four months of imprisonment, strict bail conditions, as well as five years of continuing stress and uncertainty that had arisen from the Crown appeals.
In his judgment on Tuesday, the NSW Chief Justice, Tom Bathurst, said based on all available evidence, and particularly the fact that both men were alone in the house, it was "by no means certain" that a jury verdict of guilty would be set aside as "unreasonable".
He overturned the acquittal, adding it was now a matter for the prosecution to determine whether to proceed for a third time against Mr Leung.
Mr Leung is on bail for manslaughter and a trial date is yet to be set. When that day arrive, he will become the first person in Australian legal history to be tried three times over the same killing.
Political correctness is most pervasive in universities and colleges but I rarely report the incidents concerned here as I have a separate blog for educational matters.
American "liberals" often deny being Leftists and say that they are very different from the Communist rulers of other countries. The only real difference, however, is how much power they have. In America, their power is limited by democracy. To see what they WOULD be like with more power, look at where they ARE already very powerful: in America's educational system -- particularly in the universities and colleges. They show there the same respect for free-speech and political diversity that Stalin did: None. So look to the colleges to see what the whole country would be like if "liberals" had their way. It would be a dictatorship.
For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, GREENIE WATCH, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, GUN WATCH, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN (Note that EYE ON BRITAIN has regular posts on the reality of socialized medicine). My Home Pages are here or here or here. Email me (John Ray) here. For readers in China or for times when blogger.com is playing up, there is a mirror of this site here.