Gordon Campbell | Parliament TV | Parliament Today | News Video | Crime | Employers | Housing | Immigration | Legal | Local Govt. | Maori | Welfare | Unions | Youth | Search

 

Should Jurors Who Search the Internet Should Be Punished?

EMBARGOED UNTIL 10:00 AM 19 MAY 2014


MEDIA RELEASE 19 May 2014 Hon Sir Grant Hammond KNZM

President

Law Commission

Law Commission Asks Whether Jurors Who Search the Internet Should Be Punished

The Law Commission is seeking public feedback as part of its review of contempt of court on whether there should be a new offence to deal with jurors who search the Internet during a trial or communicate jury room deliberations through social media. This is one of the topics covered in its Issues Paper, Contempt in Modern New Zealand, which was released today.

The sentencing last year of an Auckland man called for jury service for reportedly failing to make himself available for a jury trial has highlighted for the public the issue of contempt of court by those called to serve as jurors. The Commission has examined in its Issues Paper the potential for increasing problems of contempt by jurors.

Sir Grant Hammond, President of the Commission, said the purpose of the law of contempt is to protect the integrity of the justice system and a defendant’s right to a fair trial.

“The right to trial by jury for serious offences is a cornerstone of the criminal justice system in New Zealand and something we all have an interest in protecting. It requires citizens to be available to serve on juries and to also then carry out their duties in accordance with the law.”

Judge Peter Boshier, Lead Commissioner for the review, believes that New Zealand may well begin to see the types of problems that the courts in England and Wales have had to grapple with due to jurors searching the Internet and falling foul of the law of contempt.

Judge Boshier says that the Internet and the use of social media have totally changed the way ordinary people access and disseminate information. Changes are now needed to modernise the law of contempt to better address the risks that jurors accessing material through the Internet or 2


communicating through social media may pose to a defendant’s right to be fairly tried only on the evidence admitted in Court.

“We have a fairly stark choice to make. We can either come down hard in the way the English courts have on those jurors who break the rules and look for information relating to their cases on the Internet, or we can take a more proactive approach and try to steer jurors away from such conduct in a more conciliatory way.”

Judge Boshier says the Law Commission favours a proactive approach and the Issues Paper canvasses a number of possible options.

“We need to be careful about creating new offences. Punishing a citizen when he or she is undertaking a civic duty could be considered harsh, particularly where the person has simply been overzealous and looked for material on the web to try and make the right decision.”

Although the Commission suggests a statutory offence may be needed, it also proposes that the risk that jurors will see or look for material on the Internet should be more proactively managed to minimise the possibility of a juror committing such an offence.

“We are seeking input from the public on what type of approach we should take in this area.”

The Commission now welcomes any comments or submissions on the Issues Paper. The closing date for submissions is Friday 22 August 2014. The Commission intends to publish its report on the reference in the second half of 2015.

The full Issues Paper, Contempt in Modern New Zealand (IP36, 2014) is available from our website at http://www.lawcom.govt.nz/project/review-contempt-court/issues-paper.

-ENDS-

NZLC_IP36_Media_briefing_UE.pdf

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
 
 
Parliament Headlines | Politics Headlines | Regional Headlines

Gordon Campbell: On The
America’s Cup

The fact New Zealand now reigns supreme once again in the most sophisticated contest in the world’s most elite sport – yacht racing – can’t help but reflect the trajectory the country has been on since the 1980s...

Elite sport used to feel more like a collective, shared experience. It was our team, composed of people who lived and worked like us. Now, not so much. More>>

 

PM's Press Conference: Red Socks And Secret Tapes

Prime Minister Bill English began his post-cabinet press conference by explaining how well the National Party's annual conference went. He also mentioned today's announcement of changes to the EQC disaster insurance legislation and wished Emirates Team New Zealand well in the America's Cup. More>>

Max Rashbrooke: On How To Make Government More Open

International surveys, while often complimentary, have also pinpointed major weaknesses: political donations are badly regulated, for instance, and appointments to government boards frequently go to those with strong political connections. More>>

In Court: Hamilton Student's Lawsuit Over Climate Change Policy

A law student from Hamilton is preparing to challenge the Government in the High Court on Monday over what she says is a “failure” to properly address climate change. More>>

ALSO:

Gordon Campbell: On The Fallout From The Barclay Tape

This is hardly a case of cleaning out your desk and being turfed out onto the pavement. As others have pointed out, the disgraced Clutha-Southland MP will remain on the public payroll for three months until the election, and for three months afterwards. More>>

ALSO:

 
 
 
 
 

LATEST HEADLINES

  • PARLIAMENT
  • POLITICS
  • REGIONAL
 
 

Featured InfoPages

Opening the Election
 
 
 
  • PublicAddress
  • Pundit
  • Kiwiblog