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Senior judge calls for web blackout

Senior judge calls for web blackout

A SUPREME Court judge’s call to find a way to prevent jurors from researching cases online has been branded “silly and unworkable” by a media union, according to a report by The…

A SUPREME Court judge’s call to find a way to prevent jurors from researching cases online has been branded “silly and unworkable” by a media union, according to a report by The Australian newspaper.

Justice Virginia Bell, of the NSW Supreme Court, recommended that Crown prosecutors in any pending case should “carry out searches on the internet and, in the event that prejudicial material is identified… request any Australian-based website to remove it until the trial is completed”. The availability of archived press reports on the web could affect the trial of an accused person, she said.

But Media, Entertainment and Arts Alliance federal secretary Christopher Warren said Justice Bell’s idea is an attempt at censorship, The Australian report states.

Justice Bell’s comments follow a NSW study that examined 41 trials held between 1997 and 2000 which found that, in three of those cases, jurors admitted to having carried out internet searches, even though they were told not to by judges. Both NSW and Queensland have legislation preventing jurors from researching cases on the internet.

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