Silence in the Court

The NZ Herald weighs in on the debate over name suppression. This is a very good summation of the pros and cons of our current suppression system and dispels some myths about name suppression.

The canvas these arguments (my view is in brackets) :

  • Every accused person should get name suppression until convicted. (No)
  • The accused should get name suppression in sex cases where the victim is related in order to protect the victim’s identity. (No, we should implement the Capill Solution where the victim and the nature of the relationship are suppressed but not the accused)
  • Suppression orders penalise print media (Yes)
  • Prominent people should have a greater right to name suppression (No WAY)
  • The internet makes suppression orders impotent (Yes)

They make only one silly statement:

As demonstrated by the fact that Slater has been charged for alleged breaches of court orders. internet posters can be traced and prosecuted, as can old media.

Uhhhhmmm…it wasn’t like I was hiding.

Whether or not the internet played a role by increasing the pool of those in the know, a curious John Key learned the name of the entertainer (found to have committed a sex offence, discharged without conviction, granted permanent name suppression) by asking someone he knew.

The Prime Minister believes the ease with which he learned the name shows suppression orders are not working.

The penalty of $1000 is hardly a deterrent to breaching an order, something that is acknowledged by the Law Commission which recommends it be greatly increased.

This is one of my concerns with the Law Commission proposals. They don’t address the issues that the public is talking about, that of transparency of the court system, something suppression clearly breaches. Rather than solve the problem by matching our laws with like jurisdictions their answer is once over lightly re-write and and increase in fines. We need more open-ness and more transparency not more hiding.

They mention the Solicitor-General, David Collins pursuing prosecution for contempt of court and breaching name suppression. David Collins has been blabbing on about this extensively for some time and claims three scalps so far and in private and in public has stated that he is going to make an example of a blogger this year.

I wonder perhaps if David Collins’ crusade isn’t a bit of Pot, Kettle, Black.

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