Tuesday, December 13, 2011


  • The Australian 
  • September 24, 2010 
  • VICTORIA'S Chief Justice Marilyn Warren has stepped up her push for greater communication with the public.
    Justice Warren has foreshadowed television and internet broadcasts of class actions over Victoria's catastrophic bushfires.
    "Next year, when the bushfire class actions start there may be an opportunity for televised or streamed hearings," she said.
    Her statement comes soon after Attorney-General Rob Hulls welcomed the Chief Justice's proposal to expand the court's communications and urged her to stream entire court cases over the internet.
    Justice Warren said televising criminal trials could be difficult and the decision in each case depended on the trial judge.
    But the court was considering televised hearings of civil judgments and sentences, appeal hearings and possibly the pilot filming of civil trials.
    These initiatives come soon after the Chief Justice used her Richard Searby oration at Deakin University on Tuesday to propose greater use of communications to overcome what she saw as shortcomings in the media's coverage of courts.
    It also follows endorsement of greater use of television cameras in court by West Australian Chief Justice Wayne Martin.
    Justice Warren suggested Victoria's courts should run their own weekly online newspaper, provide commentators to appear on YouTube and prepare commentaries on judgments for publication in newspapers.
    "We have seen in the media, particularly the popular press, that judges are viewed as fair game and severely criticised more and more," she said.
    Judges were vulnerable to "the news-hungry commentariat" who usually focused on the outcome of cases, not the reasoned process that judges used to reach an outcome, she told her audience at Deakin University.
    Yesterday, she told The Australian there were exciting opportunities for the courts but they would need help from the government and cooperation from the media.
    The Supreme Court was also considering making available more electronic material to the media.
    As well as file footage of judges, she said the Supreme Court would be encouraging the provision of electronic exhibits in criminal trials after they had been tendered in evidence.
    The Supreme Court's media policy already urges judges to "consider whether to audio broadcast every sentence" by making use of the court's web-streaming facilities.
    But Justice Warren said the court was looking at making audio broadcasts of sentences on the internet the default position.
    It was also examining audio webcasts of civil judgments in cases where there is sufficient media interest.

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