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The Concept Of Fair Trial Essay

1772 words - 7 pages

“The right of a criminal defendant to a fair trial is absolute... The right to a fair trial is one to be enjoyed by the guilty as well as the innocent, for a defendant is presumed to be innocent until proved to be otherwise in a fairly conducted trial,” (Randall v. R. (Cayman Islands), 2002). The concept of fair trial is self-explanatory; it simply means an impartial trial that is executed to grant each party involved in a case their fundamental right which guarantees them a right to due. The scenario provided gives rise to issues of contempt of court, the sub judice rule and the code of ethics for media professionals. This essay will expound on the aforementioned issues, discuss whether or not the comments made by Speek Owt are licit and state the consequences to be faced by him and Scandal FM.
The law dealing with contempt in the Caribbean jurisdictions is generally found to be at common law, except in Guyana, where there is a Contempt of Court Act. Common law offences are established by the courts over the years where there lies no legislation, that is, they are derived from case law. According to Crone (2002), contempt of court refers to the improper interference with the administration of justice. Its origin lies within the rule of law, that the court must be free to decide on the matters before it, unhindered by outside influence. Publication of contempt can be either a criminal or civil contempt. At common law, there are three offences of criminal contempt. This includes interfering with pending or imminent court proceedings, contempt in the face of court and scandalizing the court. The criminal contempt offence committed by Speech Owt is interfering with pending or imminent court proceedings. It is concerned with the likelihood that a juror or witness may be influenced by material which is published about active legal proceedings. Therefore, Speech owl is in contempt of anticipating the course of the trial and predicting the outcome by the comments made by him on Scandal FM. According to the Press Association of Jamaica (PAJ) code of ethics (2005), Section 1, subsection (a) it states that newspapers, periodicals, radio and television stations shall take due care not to publish or broadcast untrue, inaccurate, misleading or distorted material or information. It also states that special care should be made to avoid distortions made possible by the new information and communication technologies. Silvertongue may argue that Owt was in breach of this code. He did not take due care in broadcasting the details of the court proceedings involving Lyriks and broadcasted to his audience distorted information that may mislead the public and prejudice the jury.
The sub judice rule also comes into play in this case. Under this legal convention, once a matter ends up before the courts, public comments that directly or indirectly create a risk of bias or prejudice are forbidden. This rule was developed to regulate the publication of matters which are...

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