Date set for Defamation Trial

The defamation trial of Joe Karam vs Parker and Purkiss is to be held at the High Court in Auckland starting on 14 October 2013 and going for three weeks.   The trial is to be held before a judge only.  Joe Karam is represented by Michael Reed and both Parker and Purkiss will be representing themselves.

The legal action taken by Karam against the two Justice for Robin Bain (JFRB) group members consists of four actions:

  1. Against Parker as admin of the JFRB facebook site for being 'publisher' of other people's comments on the page.
  2. Against Parker as creator of this website for being publisher of other people's comments.
  3. Against Parker for his own comments on the Facebook page and on his website.
  4. Against Purkiss for his own comments on the Facebook page, on his website and on Trade Me messageboards.

Parker and Purkiss are defending using legal defences of Truth, Truth overall, Honest Opinion and Qualified Privilege.  There are some 100 comments involved in the legal action allegedly published by Parker and Purkiss.  They maintain that the defamation suit is improper and vexatious and will be presenting substantial evidence before the Court.


Isn't it strange that Karam is first to use the media outlet when it suits and also quick to use his money to stifle debate which is contrary to his position? It's the easiest tactic in the world to slander the dead who cannot answer back and I just wonder whether Karam has the intelligence to realize from this site the enormity of what he has done in allowing a killer to go loose,albeit one who has served thirteen years behind bars and is unlikely to reoffend.

Kent ,whats the rationale or reason for having the hearing before a Judge only.? A lawyer once told me ( rather cynically it seems ) that you had a greater chance of an acquittal with a  jury .

Can Michael Reed be required to take the stand.?

I don't doubt Kent's sincerity, intelligence and knowledge of the facts of this case. I am not qualified to comment on Vic Purkiss as I have no knowledge of him.

I do however question the wisdom of conducting a defense without the assistance of a skilled defense counsel. Michael Reed is a seasoned lawyer and he will be in his element in this courtroom. The judge will adhere to court protocol and will not tolerate deviation from it by an inexperienced defence - no matter how well intentioned and sincere.

I have appeared as an expert witness and it is not an easy task. I was not free to answer questions as I wished. I felt the questions were misleading and when I tried to answer them as I felt they should be answered, the judge shut me down with a curt "just answer the question".  I found this extremely frustrating and felt I was unable to give a true and accurate reply.  Having counsel to support me was a godsend.

I think Kent and Vic are taking a courageous stand but I really urge them to have the services of a legal representative when they appear in court.

What you are referring to there, Charles, is the ability to ask closed questions under cross examination.  This is not possible during examination-in-chief, which is when the other party first obtains evidence from a witness.  Yes, it can enable counsel to steer the testimony in a favourable direction.  The way to overcome this is to anticipate it in the examination in chief. 

As a self-litigant I get to give my evidence as a continuous narrative with no one asking me questions and so I get to say what I need to say.  I do have to be careful that everything I say is admissible and that is worked out beforehand so that once the trial starts the other party knows what I am going to say.

Another benefit of being a self-litigant is that I do not have to rely on my counsel being alert and if I think a question being put to me is unreasonable I can make a point of order straight away.  Getting counsel up to speed on issues to the extent of knowing where the boundaries might be is an expensive process.

Unfortunately (but not for lawyers) our system is based on the lawyer having to get to know the issues at hand in a case, so that he/she can both argue it and do all the legal stuff.  A lawyer will never know the facts better than the party they represent and a lawyer may or may not be better at communicating those facts.  Lawyers work on the basis of taking control of the proceedings and they have to glean from the person they represent all the facts of the case.  Obviously that takes time and if the case is complex, which this one definitely is, then a lot of time, and money, is required.  Ideally we need to have a system whereby a litigant can retain control of the facts and just have the lawyer in to manage the legal side of it and that is what I am endeavouring to do.

Thank you for your informative reply Kent.  I understood the process was more adversarial in nature.  If I understand you correctly, you get to tell your story without interruption and then you are open to questions on the evidence you have given.

I guess Reed will be asking those questions. He is a wily fox and his objective will be to persuade the judge that your evidence is suspect.  At the trial, his job was to convince a naive jury.  It won't be that easy to pull the wool over the judge's eyes - and in this case it is the judge who needs to be persuaded, not the jury.

I am relieved to read your explanation. I was worried that it was going to be a lambs to the slaughter scenario!  Analogous to me swotting up the rules of tennis so that I knew them backwards and then going on to centre court against Roger Federer!

Good luck. You are both very brave.

Charles you've raised some interesting and valid  points but am encouraged by Kent's response who in short oreder has become well versed in court procedure and processes from the perspective of a self litigant.Yes Michael Reed is formidable but we've had the advantage of seeing  him in action in the 2009 trial and his subsequant media and public pronouncements. Fornidable, yes but not invinciable or invunerable. Looks like a real David and Goliath tusstle and  trsuting Kent and Vic choosing the right kind of  stones from the brook.

We have just been informed that Michael Reed will not be representing Karam in the trial but instead we will have Peter McKnight who is a very experienced defamation lawyer, however he does not have his head round the issues anywhere like Reed does.  So references to Reed are no longer relevant.