Friday, March 12, 2010

The Waihopai Trial II: Law and the law

The trial of three men charged with damaging the Waihopai spy base in Blenheim in May 2008 continues in the Wellington District Court this week.

The defence is claiming that they acted in self-defence, that it was a necessity, and also a claim of right. If the jury sees it their way, they’ll be acquitted.

Bryan Law has been in court(apparently in the public audience) blogging the trial every day, but has been verbally ordered by Judge Harrop to desist from doing so, because he mentioned some legal matters that were not heard in front of a jury in day two of the trial. I would have thought another reason would have been that he taking notes in the public area, as opposed to the press benches.

As a result, Law has decided not to continue blogging on the trial. The Court has advised me that the judge has practically prevented him from blogging aspects of this trial through sources outside the courtroom, or reporting on media reports, and to do so will be contempt of court. However the decision has not been formally made, that will occur later this morning.

As Law states, the freedom of speech around court hearings is an important part of democracy. If the press can report on the trial, it is unfortunate that the judge has not appeared to give anyone the option of blogging legitimately from the press bench like any other reporter.

So, Law has stopped reporting at day three unless the judge gives him express permission to do so. A report of day four of the trial is here. Wonder how legit that is?

update Just been advised that Law is now an accredited reporter for Scoop Media, with all reports also able to be posted onto his own blog. His first scoop post is here. Another report of the events is here.




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