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從七警案的判刑, 看法官的判案步驟

香港受到政治氣候的影響下, 近年司法機構也變成磨心。十幾年來, 搞社會運動涉及示威遊行、非法集結、行為不檢、阻街等的控罪, 審訊經歷三級法院(裁判法院、高院及終審法院)的審訊及上訴, 逐步釐清了這些控罪在法律上的元素, 以及牽涉《人權法》、《基本法》及一些國際公約賦予平民權利義務方面的解說。經終院闡釋後, 下級法院在審案時比以前更易處理法律爭拗。以前建制人士不會批評法官, 只有泛民及激進社會運動人士罵法官。可是到了近年, 建制人士也開始罵官了, 不止罵官, 還會罵娘。一下子甚麼監察法官判案, 甚麼警拉官放等一干言論, 甚囂塵上。七警被定罪和判監兩年之後, 這股罵官氣氛被推上高潮, 連警察也罵官了, 又說會按章工作。不少人提出近期個別判決, 譬如襲警脫罪、暴徒輕判感化, 衝擊政府機構判社會服務令等例子, 來證明「黃官」的偏頗。我寫這一篇是預了給人罵的。我一直以來都被人罵撐警, 現在連撐警的人都罵起我來。罵就無需講道理, 罵我無妨, 有沒有道理都可以罵人, 這是言論自由賦予我們的權利。我罵得人多, 被別人罵也可能活該, 但道理我還是想講的。

我寫這一篇有兩個目的, 其一, 粗略分析一下法官判刑的準則, 其二, 上一篇有讀者在留言留下一篇文章的連結, 是香島中學鄧飛校長在《文匯報》發表一篇叫《用法治的方式解決法治中可能存在的問題》的文章, 我從鄧校長的文章學習之餘, 也寫一下香港法院在判刑一致性方面的法律原則。我不是為了反駁鄧校長的觀點而寫, 而是見到他在文章末兩段講英國的情況, 我借香港上訴庭一宗案例來講香港、英國及澳洲三地對判刑一致性(parity)的思維。

罵警拉官放的人其實也希望警拉官放吧, 他們不是很希望Dufton判七警無罪嗎? 如果Dufton判七警無罪, 到其時就輪到非建制的人罵警拉官放了。即是說, 只要法官釘你想釘的人, 而放你的同路人就可以了。那麼法官變成磨心, 兩面不討好, 該怎辦? 咿, 來個網上投票, 順應民情來判案好嗎? Majority wins. 一於搞判案雷動計劃, 發動網民來決定是釘是放, 符合民主精神, 豈不美哉? 真正維護法治, 不是那種一方面講維護法治, 另一方面收受利益, 也不是講贏了法治輸了公義、七警不是故意打人那類廢話。Dufton判這件案, 仔細考慮了影片呈堂的法律爭拗, 涉案人身份的爭論, 也衡量證據事實, 詳盡解釋了理據, 寫了817段判辭。不滿這裁決, 請從這判案書找空間去上訴, 沒有入會阻你, 而不是發動種族歧視去罵這洋法官, 罵就找判詞的錯處來罵。判刑可以批評嗎? 當然可以, 不過要用法律去批評, 說他判得輕和判得重, 都要提出實質理據。

法官判刑是隨心所欲的嗎? 基本上法官可以有兩種途徑去決定怎樣量刑。其一, 司法機構有判案的Manual, 提供給不同工種的各級法官作為參考, 這種Manual是時常更新的, 民事、刑事、家事、各種審裁處、死因庭諸如此類, 都各有判刑及程序指引, 這些Manual只有法官才看到, 因為要從司法機構的內聯網登入, 公眾接觸不到。其二, 參考Sentencing In Hong Kong這本書, 這書是由前刑事檢控專員江樂士及他的下屬前助理刑事檢控專員張維新共同撰寫的, 現已出到第七版。法官判案的量刑基本上參考這些東西, 參考了也難免同一個官, 判同一件案(超過一名被告)會出現不一致的刑罰, 因為裏面涉及很多不同因素, 年齡、背景、案底、犯法的角色等, 都足以使判刑時出現各被告刑罰不一樣的情況。同一個官, 判不同的案就更加千變萬化了。不同的法官, 處理同類形和不同類形的案就更加不會一致。再加上有些法官仁慈, 有些法官嚴厲, 根本無可能會一樣。七警遇到另一位法官可能脫了罪, 定罪也未必判多過15個月, 根本沒有對錯可言, 有人會把量刑起點降低, 再把求情因素增大, 就會出現很不一樣的結果了。如果案情特別, 沒有可作參考的案例, 就靠法官個人看法去判刑了。七警案可算是這種情況。

這種不一致, 就帶入鄧飛校長的宏文提出的論據。我講了不是要反駁, 而是用香港案例來展示香港法院的思維。在吳敏兒案 (HKSAR v Ng Man Yee CACC 278/2013), 上訴庭副庭長 Stock及上訴庭法官McWalters (不好意思, 那些不喜歡老外法官的, 這兩位是老外, 而且以前都是在律政司工作的), 在判辭中講了判刑是否一致的原則:
40.  When disparity of sentence is the ground of appeal we note that in the High Court of Australia decision of Lowe v The Queen (1984) 154 CLR 606 Mason J expressed the view that the fact that the sentence is not a just sentence is a ground for appellate intervention notwithstanding that the injustice is generated by error arising in proceedings other than those of the appellant.  At page 613 he said:
“The sentence under appeal may be free from error except in so far as discrepancy itself constitutes or causes error. And the justification which the courts assign for intervention in the case of disparity is that disparity engenders a justifiable sense of grievance in the applicant and an appearance of injustice to that impassive representative of the community, the objective bystander.” [5]
41.  These views were subsequently followed by the majority of the High Court in Green v The Queen (2011) 244 CLR 462 where French CJ, Crennan and Kiefel JJ said at page 475, paragraph 32:
“32 A court of criminal appeal deciding an appeal against the severity of a sentence on the ground of unjustified disparity will have regard to the qualitative and discretionary judgments required of the primary judge in drawing distinctions between co-offenders. Where there is a marked disparity between sentences giving rise to the appearance of injustice, it is not a necessary condition of a court of criminal appeal’s discretion to intervene that the sentence under appeal is otherwise excessive. Disparity can be an indicator of appealable error (88). It is also correct, as Mason J said in Lowe, that logic and reality combine to favour the proposition that discrepancy is a ground for intervention in itself (89). Unjustifiable disparity is an infringement of the equal justice norm. It is appealable error, although it may not always lead to an appeal being allowed.”
42.  It is important to recognize that whether a disparity between sentences is an unjustifiable one, thereby resulting in an unjust sentence, does not fall to be determined by the subjective feelings of the offender whose sentence is under appeal.  As the majority said in Green at page 474, paragraph 31:
“31. … The sense of grievance necessary to attract appellate intervention with respect to disparate sentences is to be assessed by objective criteria. The application of the parity principle does not involve a judgment about the feelings of the person complaining of disparity …”
43.  In Hong Kong the objective test that has been applied is that expounded by Lawton LJ in Fawcett (1983) 5 Cr App R (S) 158 which he described at page 161 as:
“… would right-thinking members of the public, with full knowledge of all the relevant facts and circumstances, learning of this sentence consider that something had gone wrong with the administration of justice?” [6]
44.  The argument in the present case seeks to extend disparity of sentence as a ground of appeal beyond co-offenders to a disparity in sentence between wholly unrelated offenders; here the applicant and other persons sentenced for the same type of criminal activity but in respect of completely unrelated crimes. In considering whether such an extension should be permitted it is helpful to have an understanding of the legal foundation of the parity principle.  This was explained by the majority in Green.  They said at page 473, paragraphs 28-29:
“28. … Consistency in the punishment of offences against the criminal law is “a reflection of the notion of equal justice” and “is a fundamental element in any rational and fair system of criminal justice” (75). It finds expression in the “parity principle” which requires that like offenders should be treated in a like manner (76). As with the norm of “equal justice”, which is its foundation, the parity principle allows for different sentences to be imposed upon like offenders to reflect different degrees of culpability and/or different circumstances (77). [7]
29. … The consistency required by the parity principle is focused on the particular case. It applies to the punishment of “co-offenders”, albeit the limits of that term have not been defined with precision.” [8]
45.  As can be seen from this passage the parity principle is confined in its application to co-offenders.  Likewise, in Hong Kong where there is long line of authority that limits disparity of sentence as a ground of appeal to co-offenders sentenced differently by the same judge.[9] It has never been extended to offenders charged with the same offence arising out of completely unrelated criminal conduct.
46.  Nor, has it been so extended in England. In the English case of Large (1981) 3 Cr. App. R (S) 80 the Court of Appeal refused to entertain a submission that there was disparity of sentencing between the sentence imposed on the appellant and sentences imposed by the same judge on other offenders for the same offence but who were participants in completely unrelated crimes.  At page 82 the Court said:
“This Court declines to entertain such a submission. By reason of the appeals which consistently come before it the Court is aware of the general level of sentencing throughout the country. If, when individual sentences are being considered, it was permissible for counsel to analyse sentences passed by other judges on other occasions for other offences the work of this Court would come to a standstill. It would occupy the time of the Court to an inordinate extent and would do no more than draw its attention to the sentencing practice of a particular judge on a particular occasion in circumstances quite different from those with which the Court is immediately concerned. We will consider the matter of disparity when it arises in respect of participants in the same offence who have received different sentences for the parts that they played in the offence. Where it appears that for similar involvement in the offence the offenders have received very different sentences it is a warning sign that something may possibly have gone wrong with one or more of the sentences.”
47.  The New South Wales Supreme Court adopted a similar view in Kardoulias v The Queen (2005) 159 A Crim R 252.  After accepting that what in Australia is referred to as the parity principle applies to co‑offenders, the Court of Criminal Appeal said at page 274, paragraph 106:
“However, the parity principle is not to be applied when a ground of appeal invites comparison between sentences imposed upon two offenders who are not co-offenders simply because the two offenders may have similar characteristics and may have committed similar crimes.”
48.  There is nothing in the judgment of the High Court in Green to suggest that the parity principle can inure to the benefit of persons other than co-offenders; nor is there in English or in Hong Kong case law.  All three jurisdictions speak with one voice.  The only occasion that relativity to other offenders’ sentences will create a justified sense of grievance is when the relativity concerns sentences imposed on persons who participated in the same offence as the offender.  That is not, of course, the position here.
49.  Outside of this situation it is for each applicant to demonstrate error or excessiveness in his own case.  A sentence otherwise appropriate for the level of that offender’s culpability does not become unjust simply by reference to an erroneous or unduly lenient sentence imposed on another offender in an unrelated crime.
50.  That being so, it cannot be said that other erroneous or unduly lenient sentences imposed in unconnected cases involving the same offence, provide an offender receiving a heavier sentence than those imposed in these other unconnected cases, with a justified sense of injustice.  It does not seem to us that it matters what the reason is for the alleged disparity between the cases; whether it be one judge being more lenient than another or the prosecutor selecting the wrong venue for trial.  Whatever the reason, the principle remains the same – the parity principle only applies to co-offenders.
51.  We do not doubt that this applicant and his family may not understand why others involved in more serious money laundering activity have been sentenced apparently more leniently but, for the reasons we have given, this does not entitle this applicant to harbour a justified sense of injustice.

我沒有本事去翻譯, 一言以蔽之, 判刑的一致性只適用於同案的被告(the parity principle only applies to co-offenders)。時下聽到批評法官判刑, 甚麼黃絲藍絲的, 有沒有人認真去硏究孰輕孰重的因由, 連那些所謂法律學者也在胡謅, 又怎能怪一般市民。以我自己觀察, 事實上確有些不太稱職的法官, 也有些遇到棘手案件就以案情事實來判被告無罪的法官。世界不是完美的, 制度也不能說不存缺陷的, 在社會撕裂分化之下, 才會因感性充昏了理性, 七警案的審判結果使這種情緒完全發酵。我尚算有幸, 沒有置身於瘋癲之中, 還可以提出理性討論, 盡量撇開個人情感去思考。我不是睡不著輾轉反側才去思考, 我住在悉尼十多年, 有機會把兩地發生的事情作比較, 像曾蔭權那類案, 在澳洲, 官商利益輸送無日無之, 在澳洲那些官員, 給捅出來就只有撤職, 像影片落畫, 從來都不會被檢控。香港在法治方面的成績, 真的很不錯了, 把香港的法治精神輸到這裏來, 恐怕不少官員已鋃鐺入獄了。香港警察來澳洲做, 就會更舒適, 很少機會被辱罵, 動了粗也很多人撐你, 分別在於社會的氣氛很不相同。今時今日在香港當差不是一份筍工, 但尚算是一份好工。
從七 七警 警案 案的 判刑 法官 判案 步驟
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