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JN204 (23)

oct11,week5,thurs - Copy.odt

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Bruce Gillespie

Journalism th October 11 , 2012 Week 6, thursday contempt of court pre trial, during trial and post trial. Criminal trials: PRE TRIAL: • the principle of open justice means that everything that takes place in a coutrroom is the public's business by default. • All information at every stage of a criminal case can be published, as long as there is no statutory or court imposed publication ban. • There is an automatic publication ban on voir dire hearings in jury trials, at which the jury is absent. • Voir dire- mini trial to see which evidence is admitted in open court or not. • The public and reporters ay attend these hearings but not publish and details from them until later. • The automatic ban on information presented at voir dire hearing expires as soon as jurors leave the courtroom to begin deliberations.As they are sequestered. • Unless a judge imposes a ban, media are free to report on all previously restricted details once jury deliberations begin. • No risk of contempt in publishing details in the charging document: the accused's name, address, place of occupation, time and place of the incident, identity of the victim, the wording of the law that's been breached. • Judges will often overlook reports that are short, fact based, and neutral in tone. • Stories that take a more sensational approach- lurid photos, front page positioning, colourful commentary, are more likely to be found in contempt. TRIAL PHASE: • the risk increases as the commencement of a trial draws nearer • Background stories on the eve of a trial and stories published once a jury has been empanelled are at greater risk of contempt. • Disclosing a defendant's criminal rcord shortly before or during a trial is likely to result in a mistrial and contempt charges. • Unless the criminal record has been presented in open court, before a jury. • General rule: if the jury has seen it in court, you're allowed to publish it. • Reporting on retrials- when a defendant has won a new trial on appeal- can be seen as prejudicial if you include information about the defendant's previous conviction. • Reporting on parole hearings is low risk as long as you don't give an opinion as to whether parole is deserved or not. • Reporting that a defendant is in custody awaiting trial or showing images of him or her under guard is low-risk. • Discussing security measures not seen by jurors risks contempt as it may prejudice juror
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