I wonder if he’ll ask for a name suppression order.

Written By: - Date published: 1:45 pm, December 24th, 2009 - 27 comments
Categories: blogs, suppression orders - Tags:

No Right Turn has a post The blogosphere is not above the law.

Since the beginning, there’s been a meme on the internet that the law doesn’t really apply here, and that we can get away with anything. But while there may be practical difficulties (particularly if people are smart and careful), it certainly does, and if the government can track you down, they can certainly hold you to account for any misdeeds.

The New Zealand blogosphere is about to be reminded of this. Earlier in the month, a well-known sewerblogger published the name of an accused rapist, in violation of a suppression order. He is now being prosecuted, and if convicted he could be fined up to $1,000. It couldn’t happen to a nicer guy…

Yeah it was bound to happen eventually. I find the suppression orders mildly pointless for some cases myself – it usually takes minutes to find any high profile one about the net. But we do obey them because the judge has more information than we do, and we generally respect their decisions. Some of the sewerbloggers, like this one, do not. They seem to not pick cases with any actual public interest considerations either, preferring to concentrate on personal dog-whistles without regard to the integrity of the court process or the other people involved.

There are few suppression orders that are somewhat irksome. For instance, the suppression orders around the October 15th 2007 ‘terrorism’ raid decisions to date seem unnecessarily stifling in the context of the Search and Surveillance bill going through parliament at present. I had to censor 7 words from rockys post “Suppression Orders & The Internet” last month for referring to those decisions in her post. I find it difficult to understand who would not benefit by releasing those decisions apart from the people being given more powers to abuse in the SS bill. But I haven’t read Judge Helen Winkelmanns decision to find the grounds for the suppression.

However this is a discussion that will happen when the now 2 year old case finally goes to trial. To date the court has only been sitting on questions of what evidence may be admitted after submissions from both the police and the defendants. From what I know, I would suspect that the public interest questions of the current decisions far outweigh other considerations.

But unlike the sewerbloggers, we adhere to current law. It isn’t that onerous. I haven’t mentioned the sewerblogger in question at all through here despite making my points. I’d strongly prefer (ie moderate) that it isn’t mentioned in the comments…. It makes it easier if he does go for name suppression.

27 comments on “I wonder if he’ll ask for a name suppression order.”

  1. wtl 1

    Not only has the accused rapist not (yet) been convicted, but the victim is also identifiable from the identity of the accused. It really makes no sense to have revealed the identity of the person – i.e. if you were going to violate a suppression order to make a point, this was NOT an appropriate case to choose.

  2. outofbed 2

    What is really sad is that the blogger in question seems to have some serious mental health issues. He needs some advice and help from friends and relations before he makes life harder for himself and his poor family..
    I actually feel very sorry for him and the public train wreck of a life that his illness has fostered

    • Rich 2.1

      Maybe he’ll be sectioned?

      I notice that far from seeking anonymity, he has posted the summons, showing his full address, DOB and driving license number, on the internet. Christmas comes early to Nigeria!

      • lprent 2.1.1

        Oh that really is quite stupid…

      • toad 2.1.2

        He may have a technical defence to 3 of the 4 charges.

        Three of the informations laid by the Police refer to:

        … AN ORDER OF THE DISTRICT COURT AT AUCKALND…

        Last time I checked, the District Court didn’t have an “Auckalnd” registry. Pretty sloppy work by the Police, but I expect the prosecutor will pick it up and seek to amend the informations before the evidence is heard if the blogger defends the charges.

        • Gooner 2.1.2.1

          Toad, not necessary I don’t think. From memory I think there is a provision in the Summary Proceedings Act which permits minor defects in informations.

  3. Rex Widerstrom 3

    Well DPF seems to have no such concerns about the accused in this case possinly seeking name supression and, when you think about it, it’s highly unlikely given the person’s penchant for publicity.

    I’ve long believed that supression orders ought to automatically apply to anyone accused of anything up to the point of conviction. The damage of an accusation — particularly if it is of a sexual nature, or involves dishonesty — often lingers well beyond the resolution of the case. So if the accused is found not guilty, they’ve already effectively received what is often the worst part of the punishment.

    If there was a reason to continue it after a guilty verdict — such as protecting the victim — that could be argued at the time. It would also allow victims the right to waive supression if they wished in order to have their attacker identified.

    Similarly, other victims could just as easily come forward upon hearing of a conviction as upon hearing of an arrest.

    Before the internet, and before the MSM dived into the gutter, the practice of naming everyone arrested unless a case against so doing was presented may have been appropriate. Now, it most certainly is not. It’s too easy to ruin someone simply by pointing the finger, especially if that person has any sort of public profile.

    Reversing the onus (i.e. the prosecution needs to convince a judge that they have a very good reason indeed to publicly identify an accused) would make “suppression” commonplace and help do away with the flurry of interest that automatically accompanies such an order at present; and thus incentivises certain people to break them.

    • lprent 3.1

      DPF seems to have no such concerns about the accused in this case possinly seeking name supression and, when you think about it, it’s highly unlikely given the person’s penchant for publicity.

      Well that is his choice. I see that the sewerblogger is also wanting to get pro bono legal help. Bearing in mind his habits I suspect that will be tricky – who’d want to be smeared associated. Regardless of outcome I suspect that they’d be in the attack line soon afterwards.

      One thing that is interesting is the sewerblogger or his cohort talking about the length of time from getting the summons to going into court. They really don’t know much about criminal legal processes…

      I’ve long believed that suppression orders ought to automatically apply to anyone accused of anything up to the point of conviction.

      I’d agree. The way that the media slobber all over the cases can be done as easily after the case is finished as before. I’d also suggest mandatory jail time for the ‘editor’ if convicted and it was shown to be deliberate flouting of the suppression order.

      You can see from my comments that I’m more interested in the cases that are arguing the points of law prior to the case, and the suppression order is on those. Bearing in mind the length of some of these cases the judgments would often be useful in other cases – which I think that they are unavailable for.

  4. SHG 4

    Yeah, can’t say I support [the sewerblogger] on this one. For all we know the defendant is under investigation for something even worse, and that investigation may be screwed up by details of THIS case being revealed.

  5. Gooner 5

    Yeah, the police are obliged to bring a person to court as soon as they can – it’s a principle that’s been around for about 500 years – so there’s nothing suspicious in that.

    I suspect the actual reporting of the details of [insert the name of so-called sewerblogger here] case might themselves be suppressed to prevent the initial alleged breach being brought to public attention. That would be strange.

    • lprent 5.1

      Usually followed by a drawn out process of status hearings for up to a year. But this may be different as it applies to an existing court ruling.

    • Rich 5.2

      500 years? Despite the first organised police force (in the UK and colonies) only dating back to 1829?

      • The Voice of Reason 5.2.1

        Best part of 900 years, actually. I’m pretty sure the right of habeas corpus derives from Magna Carta circa 1125 and the principle of transparent, speedy justice flows from that. But I’m sure there’s a law person out there that can enlighten us as to the finer points.

        As`for the blowhard blogger, his identification of the alleged victim is the real crime here, as i see it. I’m not assuming the guilt of the athlete, but to out the clearly innocent is pathetic. So is begging for free representation. I thought righties believed in standing on their own two feet. What a whining, hypocritical bludger.

        • Draco T Bastard 5.2.1.1

          A large chunk of our law is based upon the Magna Carta which was signed in 1215. Most of the human rights in fact and habeas corpus definitely derives from it.

  6. Gooner 6

    No status hearings for this. I reckon it can be dealt with by legal argument alone, without the need for witnesses etc. The facts appear not to be disputed.

  7. Westminster 7

    From what I can see, this foolish git appears to have decided the suppression orders in question (note the plural: there have been multiple infractions) were meritless. What arrogance. [sewerblogger] seemingly cares not whether the orders were in place to protect victims or ensure a trial went off without a hitch – or any of the other legitimate reasons why judges slap such orders in place. What does he care of victims or convictions? All he wants is notoriety and his self-deluded idea he’s somehow scooping the MSM. If the breaches happened (which I guess needs to be established), this idiot deserves everything he gets.

    It’s not just suppression orders where he needs clipping. [sewerblogger]‘s reckless and defamatory approach to political debate also needs trimming back. His “I dare you to come after me because I have no money” bravado will only get him so far. I reckon there are a multitude of other ways of seeking redress for his libels of which money is just one. Abject apologies and having a court close down his blogging might be great non-monetary alternatives for clipping this particular idiot’s wings. I wonder if he’s thought about that.

    Mind you, on another level he’s reasonably irrelevant. His blog is a minor player in the grand scheme of things. And, let’s not forget he’s all puff. Just recall how this “hard man” crumbled when he finally got a shot at doing an interview on broadcast news – and as he stammered and murmured his way through the interview it genuinely looked like he defecated on set with nerves. Or, consider his sudden u-turn of contrition about disclosing the names of offenders (having put out a press release saying he would never back down). Or what about this most recent pathetic “gotcha” about a Labour MPs antics at Christmas drinks. All breathlessly delivered as if his tawdry rumour-mongering and abuse cuts any ice or actually means anything in the real world.

    [sewerblogger]‘s blog has become a suppurating sore for the National Party and the Right generally. While his site may once have had some sort of Tory-boy swaggering charm about it, it’s now a cesspit of ill-informed, under-thought bigotry and ignorance.

    His recent posts on climate change and government tender bids are so cringe-inducingly inane it really makes me wonder if the handful of idiots who routinely cheer him on are actually laughing with him or at him. “Yeah, it was cold day today – that Al Gore socialist is therefore clearly wrong about global warming, eh, [sewerblogger]? Hurr, hurr, hurr”.

    I used to think [sewerblogger] was crude and out of control. But thanks in large part to recent posts where he tries to tackle intellectually demanding issues (such as climate change), I now know he’s crude, genuinely out of control AND intellectually way out of his depth.

    If I were a serious political figure like [sewerblogger] Senior and wished to continue being taken seriously within the party, I would start putting boundaries around that boy (and, yes, he is very much a “boy” not a man). Despite this recent plea by Farrar on behalf of his former BFF, you can see even DPF has forsaken [sewerblogger] for the foolish embarrassment he is.

  8. Jenny 8

    “There are few suppression orders that are somewhat irksome. For instance, the suppression orders around the October 15th 2007 ‘terrorism’ raid decisions to date seem unnecessarily stifling….”

    It can also hardly be any coincidence that these hearings are to held at height of the Rugby world cup, when the RWC will dominate the headlines, forcing the politically embarrassing “Terror Raids” debacle onto the back pages.

    It’s about time the police admitted that they got caught up in the whole “War on Terror” conspiracy thing, and drop, or down grade the charges to simple gun licence violations, to be returned to the local district courts to be heard, as they normally are.

    At a time when George Bush’s War on Terror hype has passed its used by date.

    History and time have passed on, and with the fact that the courts and the police now want to now keep these hearings as low profile as possible, shows that the public should be spared the sort of expensive and sensational show trial that the prosecution actively sought for two years ago, but which through their actions show that now, even they think this may be inappropriate.

    With the passage of time and in the cold light of day, continuing with a full blown show trial in Auckland, now seems completely improper and even slightly embarrassing.

    • lprent 8.1

      Is the trial set for 2011 (when the RWC is on) ??

      I’d have expected that it should be able to be done in 2010 ?

      That would be heading towards 3 years from arrest which seems more than ample time to get a case put together. I’m aware of the legal questions about admissibility of evidence. But surely most of those are over now? Unless someone wants to run them onto the Appeals court.

      2011 would be heading towards 4 years which is just ludicrous

    • lprent 8.2

      Bloody hell. I missed that in the news last week.

      http://october15thsolidarity.info/en/node/607 Submitted on 18/12/2009 – 14:10

      A trial date of 8 August 2011 has today been set in the Auckland High Court for the 18 defendants arrested in raids under the Terrorism Suppression Act on 15th October 2007. Five defendants face a charge of ‘participation in a criminal group’ and all defendants face charges under the Arms Act.

      That is just under 4 years since the raids and more than 18 months from now.

      That is ridiculous! It is also well after the Search and Surveillance bill will be passed, which this case has a direct bearing on. The absurd search and surveillance methods by the police points to why these powers should be tightened. However the bill makes it easier to obtain them with what looks to me to be less oversight by a court than is already in place.

    • prism 8.3

      New Zealand authorities showed long ago the tendency to get enthusiastic about adopting egregious controls that some other country had instigated and to be unwilling to cast them aside once used.

      In early NZ colonial times, in an attempt to control sexual vice and disease the Brits introduced a law allowing girls and women out in public to be taken into custody and examined for health and safety reasons. NZ authorities followed and whole-heartedly continued with this practice some time after it was dropped by Britain.

      Charging into the centre of political disagreement to show them what’s what would suit this type of ‘thinker’. Law and order zealots can’t stand Maori questioners – they shouldn’t be allowed on the streets. Personal comments that vented angry thoughts listened into by police could be interpreted as examples of dangerous dissent likely to lead to action.

      NZ has become so rigid about dissent that you can’t burn the flag in protest. A bit of coloured cloth for goodness sake, seen no doubt like a standard raised in battle, representing the good old 100th or whatever.
      I can’t remember which government introduced this hilarious control.

  9. Jenny 9

    I agree.

  10. randal 11

    about time mrsnakeoil got trimmed down to size.
    saying that he should be allowed to do what he likes because the laws need changing is infantile and denotes a complete and utter lack of understanding about what laws are there for in the first place.
    hmmm.
    if he uses his blog to concentrate on that sort of stuff then maybe he should change his target to cowardly car sneaks who make a big noise and then run way.
    thats more important than creeping around in other peoples lives.

  11. James 12

    Oh please….Whale will beat this shit,increase his reafership and deliver you all a big upraised middle finger…..which you deserve.

    [lprent: You’d probably do better getting your point across if you could spell. I thought you were suggesting that he was running a tinnie house at first. ]

    • The Voice of Reason 12.1

      Top legal advice, James. No doubt the C slug will be quoting you in court and will dedicate his victory to you. Alternatively, he could be done like a dinner. I’m picking the latter.

    • prism 12.2

      Please – what are you asking for so politely James?

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