Collins upset by court 'snippets' on TV
Sat, 22 Sep 2012 6:08p.m.
By Jane Luscombe
The Justice Minister has agreed to take another look at the use of television cameras in courts. Judith Collins said she was appalled at the way some cases had been sensationalised on TV.
Clayton Weatherston, David Bain, Ewen Macdonald – never mind the verdicts, their faces are now familiar to all television viewers.
But the presence of TV cameras at trials was under scrutiny today.
“There's quite a lot of concern that cameras in court are not actually fulfilling the role that many would have thought,” said Ms Collins on The Nation this morning. “There's a lot of sensationalism.”
When cameras were first allowed in court in 1995, it was to make the justice system more transparent.
“There are rules concerning the televising of trials and one of those rules is that no member of the public or any person on a jury panel or in a jury may be screened on television,” said Dame Silvia Cartwright in 1995.
The Justice Minister wanted those rules looked at again and possibly extended to give the judges more control.
It's up to the presiding judge in each case whether cameras are allowed. But once they're in, the question remains how much influence should they have over how journalists write their stories.
Ms Collins was unhappy with what she called the “tiny snippets” shown on TV, which she said didn't reflect all of the evidence.
But as for the idea of broadcasting entire trials: case dismissed.
“The thought of turning our courtrooms into reality TV frankly appals me and it won't be happening,” said Ms Collins.
Commentators agree, for a different reason.
“The alternative is court TV and, believe me, having sat through a lot of court cases it's not Judge Judy,” said television presenter Susan Wood.
Defence lawyer Greg King, was critical of how the media shaped public perception, saying it was “ridiculous”.
He didn't want to be interviewed today, but has previously said that during his summing up of Ewen Macdonald's defence, he shouted once in four hours and that was the part given most prominence on TV.
Journalist Bill Ralston told The Nation having cameras in court was an improvement on the days when people were regularly hounded outside.
“It turns the courts actually into a fiasco, a rolling circus at times, a media circus, and you don't get that so much now in New Zealand,” he said.
In the UK, they're only just about to start letting cameras in and only to the Court of Appeal. That could extend, in time, to sentencing.
Civil rights pressure group Liberty says it will oppose anything more, including filming trials. But Ms Collins said stopping the filming of trials here was not an option.
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30/09/2012 4:56:45 p.m.
helen time wrote:
hay its the minister of gimmicks colins.
27/09/2012 9:15:58 a.m.
Media should be kept out of court. It turns it into a farse. What many people in NZ do not realise is that IF the police THINK they have enough evidence they arrest and that person is placed on bail and assumed guilty until proven innocent. The media is only usful to the crown to create a mob like culture. And oh how easy it is to do that with everyone jumping to all sorts of conclusions based on 30 seconds of a 1-2 week long trial. Media do not give a stuff about the truth they just want to sell news, and negative hype usually does the trick. It is a slippery slope when we make reality tv shows about such serious issues. We are all armchair experts with our 30 seconds of info.
25/09/2012 12:25:35 a.m.
I thought that Judith would have known what behind the law rules and regulation' when she took up employment as a Minister of Police Commissioner..
The camera has been in our court room for a while and the minority would like to see what's happening in the courtroom regardless if you are innocent or before proven guilty..
Its up to the individual to obey the law or their faces would be plublished unless the person incharged are at fault..
24/09/2012 11:11:49 a.m.
it's not just the courts the media let people down. For example when John Key went to see two soliders families he was supported by them in going and spending time with his son. But the only media that ran that story was the paper one of the family members wrote to because the media could not get their milage of spin in once the public realised that the only people's whose views on that mattered supported him. The media in NZ are at new low moments, they go into the courts, find what will get the uneducated audience the most riled up and they run it.
24/09/2012 8:20:48 a.m.
Bazraz and Alison, I feel you have not quite got what she said. Cameras are allowed in the courtroom which other countries dont allow so NZ is one of the first to do so. Her concern is the sensationalizing of a whole days court into a witness crying or a lawyer yelling for 30 seconds during a 4 hour sumation. Facts are what is requried not the highlights which attract viewers. There is freedom of the press and we do get the facts but, Bazraz why did the Dominion post in Wellington put such large pictures of the wives on the cover? its not needed. If you are interested why not go to court, sit in the public gallery and watch how long and boring it really is, the delays the debating of points of law etc ugh. Its only interesting for that length of time if you are involved, even then its tedious.Then stick with it for say 2 weeks plus, just sitting there listening not allowed to talk. Then you are under an obligation not to repeat what you have seen or heard, so go ahead and attend. Its not a nanny state here or attacking freedom of the press in this situation. I personally wouldn't want camera in court so the fact we have them is wrong.
24/09/2012 4:33:57 a.m.
Wow ............ she can smile.
23/09/2012 4:49:55 a.m.
Smacks of nanny state
22/09/2012 6:40:23 p.m.
So much for freedom of the press.
This government will dictate what the pubic will hear, reminds me of a government that belonged in Europe between 1920 to 1945.
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