Hayden Donnell pays tribute to the brave men and women who sat through four awful weeks of the Colin Craig defamation trial.
“The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing”
– Edmund Burke
“My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”
“Welcome to the black parade”
– My Chemical Romance
For three weeks and four days, the unnamed 11 shuffled in and out of their small wooden prison. They sat through an unrelenting cascade of horror in that sadist’s cage, leaving only briefly each night to weep quiet tears into their pillows, returning for more the next morning.
No one will ever know their names.
They will inspire no songs. No poems.
But we all owe the Colin Craig defamation trial jury a debt of gratitude.
It could have been any of us in that dour courtroom, withering away under a barrage of increasingly harrowing testimony. The jurors were selected from a potential pool of every adult in Auckland. Whittled down through a process of legal selection. By the end seven men and five women remained.
One man left almost immediately. The rest stayed to suffer.
They began their ordeal listening to Jordan Williams deliver an exacting account of everything he knew about Colin Craig’s sexual desires. It got worse from there. Williams was briefly replaced on the stand by Christine Rankin. Then he returned to testify about Craig’s “sex text”.
In the middle of all this, Rachel MacGregor – the only actual victim in the courtroom – was legally compelled to take the stand. “I wish these dudes would stop suing each other so this could be over for me,” she said.
The trial lasted another two weeks.
It spewed onward and onward in a parade of men, each more awful than the last.
Craig took the stand to share in “graphic detail” about a kiss he’d definitely shared with a human woman. Bob McCoskrie delivered his views on “bad poetry” and how it may or may not relate to workplace harassment. Former Conservative Party board member Laurence Day testified that MacGregor had been “forward” around Craig, which would be in contravention of Conservative Party policy demanding she silently steam press his shirts while wearing a bonnet. Finally the left-wing answer to Whale Oil lurched out to lecture everyone on the true nature of Dirty Politics.
By that stage the jury could’ve been forgiven for clawing out their eyes just to feel something different. Instead they carried on with their mission, like firefighters plunging headlong into a burning toilet. Journalists could come and go. Witnesses didn’t have to be there every day. Even the lawyers could comfort themselves in their piles of cash. The jurors had to stumble through every terrible second for less than minimum wage, in service to the rotting corpse of justice.
Is it any wonder that at the end of it all, bedraggled and bereft, semi-deranged, they gave Jordan Williams $1.27 million to go away? Put yourselves in their shoes. Could you have done any better?
The answer is no.