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Open justice

Written By: - Date published: 11:11 am, March 6th, 2009 - 19 comments
Categories: Media, news - Tags: , , , ,

David Bain’s retrial begins in Christchurch today. Yesterday the Judge held that certain web-based newspapers may screen delayed video coverage of the trial, but he declined TV3’s application to live-stream it. The present guidelines for court coverage, which date from 2003, are simply silent on the internet medium, and the Judge said that since the issue hadn’t yet been considered by the courts it was inappropriate to extend the guidelines to live-streaming in this case. 

It’s not hard to see why a Judge might shy away from testing out this novel form of media coverage (and one that would change the way the trial is digested by the New Zealand public) in Bain’s case, which is so notorious. Live-streaming the trial would make it a seriously public event and that might influence the way trial counsel and jurors behaved. Justice should be seen to be done, but nobody wants a trial that degenerates into a reality TV show.  

So, would live-streaming just indulge the voyeurs amongst us? Or is it a corollary of truly open justice? How open should open justice be?

19 comments on “Open justice”

  1. vinsin 1

    Media 7 had an episode on this a couple of days ago, it was fairly dry with two lawyers on the panel but overall was a very insightful discussion i’ll post the link here for all those interested.

    http://tvnzondemand.co.nz/content/media7_2009_ep6/ondemand_video_skin?tab=CATCH%20UP

  2. I suspect TV3s interest would be more to do with ratings and generating sensationalist headlines than satisfying public interest in the case.

  3. Lew 3

    LRO: You think there are ratings in courtroom proceedings?

    I think this was a case of TV3 branding itself as the future of media.

    L

  4. There should be live coverage of the case, it shouldnt matter what medium it is, Im sure the judge and lawyers wont change their behavior because of coverage.

  5. justthefacts 5

    There should be live coverage of this trial (or delayed coverage) for no other reason than it will finally prove Bains undoubted guilt to the conspiracy nut bars who still believe in his innocence.

  6. It doesn’t matter how much facts/stats/hard data you give to conspiracy theorists, they will always believe what they want to believe.

  7. Rex Widerstrom 7

    I fail to see how live streaming would influence counsel, jurors or anyone else to behave differently. Provided there was no embellishment of course (I can just imagine some network lining up commentators like they do for a test match… “Yes, there’s a new barrister coming on for the cross-examination now… let’s go over to Tony Johnson for a run-down on his statistics…”).

    There’d need to be some strict rules (filming the jury would be problematical in, say, the trial of a gang member) but they could be drafted by the judge with input from opposing counsel.

    Pity, a great opportunity lost because many people would have watched and got a better understanding of our courts, while a lesser profile case wouldn’t generate the same interest. Perhaps some future judge will be more adventurous.

    • Lew 7.1

      Rex,

      I fail to see how live streaming would influence counsel, jurors or anyone else to behave differently.

      In the olden days before digital, documentary filmmakers would spend the first few days shooting their subject community with no film in their cameras, on the basis that when everyone’s new to the idea of being recorded, they behave strangely. After a while, though, people got used to it, at which point they’d put the film in and start actually shooting. Same principle applies here. If they’d just quietly started it, then by the time the jury was empanelled and the administrivia out of the way, people would have forgotten all about it.

      L

  8. Snail 8

    Rex, howse it going in the cricket..?

    I thought RNZ put something out about Justice Pankhurst changing his mind on this.. the reporteer talked of TV cables strung up outside the building and entering at the fourth floor or something..

    India past 278 yet.?

  9. I work for TV3. I’m not speaking for the company here, just as someone who has an opinion, but TV3 is NOT doing this for profit or sensationalism. We’re doing it to say WE ARE HERE. To make a mark. To show people that the 3news site is the market leader.

    Too many people use stuff or herald because its their old favourite and they don’t even think to look elsewhere. A habit is a habit.

    But by streaming this near-live, TV3 is saying “look at us, we kick ass” because, honestly, we do. We break stories long before the other onlines have gotten out of bed. Our coverage is more comprehensive. Its fast. Its accurate. And its about time people knew about it.

    And for a story like this, with so many people wanting to know the truth, its great for the public to be able to watch. Even if I didn’t work for the company, I’d be glued to that stream.

    • grumpy 9.1

      Bugger me! So staff at TV3 blog on the Standard – who would have thought?

      • Pascal's bookie 9.1.1

        Bugger me

        Thanks for the offer, but no.

        So staff at TV3 blog on the Standard

        No. Apparently someone who works at TV3 left a comment on the Standard. So what?

        who would have thought?

        Too easy.

  10. justthefacts 10

    Grumpy

    The Peter Ellis case is the greatest travesty of justice this nation has ever seen, that poor sod should be cleared and compensated immediately.
    One would then hope that the authorities would go after the evil witches who saw fit to persecute the man.

    Mind you, not many here would want that to happen, it would lead all the way back to a certain ex PM and ex leader of the Labour party.

  11. grumpy 11

    Finally! justthefacts, a voice of reason and intelligence amongst the Standard bloggers, might be hope for this site yet.

    As you say, the biggest travesty in NZ history. Not just an ex PM but also the odd (very) cabinet minister.

  12. randal 12

    heck the justice department or corrections or whoever the hell it is should do a contra with tv3 and pay off their deficit
    just joking kiddies
    I think the whole of New Zealand is getting really pissed off with bain and karam leering out of the teevee every night like extras out of of some late night cop show

  13. Michael 13

    That Ellis case was run at a very interesting time. Satanist Rituals were being warned of by American fundies and Repressed Memory Syndrome was accepted by Psycs.

    Ellis was a dodgy one though and it was just a little too close with him baby sitting kids from his day job. Too many boundaries being crossed.

    Midnight investigations and leading kids on to incredible answers.

    The real danger was Feminists combining with Fundamentalists to protect the CHILDREN, who one either believed had repressed the memory or were under a spell.

    They were always gonna burn Ellis at the stake.

    • grumpy 13.1

      What do you think of the chances of The standard leading a campaign for a Royal Commission into the Peter Ellis case?

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