It certainly is true that Michael Rafferty’s internet searches show him to be a monstrous individual – indeed, they suggest a host of other offences beyond those of the brutal murder for which he was convicted. But therein is the critical point – Rafferty was on trial for murder and not for being a dreadful person. The evidence before the jury was sufficient to show Rafferty was a murderer and other facts which showed he was a bad person were properly excluded. Suggesting that Justice Thomas Heeney was somehow too squeamish or too patronizing in his approach to the jury misses the point that the trial was for murder (and directly related matters) and not, for example, for accessing child pornography. Justice Heeney did a fine job in an extraordinarily difficult case – he should be praised and not excoriated.
“Too many judges — evidently Heeney among them — take a condescending view of juries. They say all the right things, like “we’re not withholding anything from you” when juries are trotted out of the room for legal arguments. This is patently false because they are withholding, not just the legal wrangles that take place on the head of a pin but the quantifiable facts as well.
It is as if juries can’t be trusted with the truth. It is infantilizing.
Michael Rafferty is a man of bad character. He is a sexual deviant. He is a child-killer.
Thank God the jury got it, no thanks to Heeney.”