“Prosecutors Seek Complete Ban On Media Reporting Of Cardinal George Pell Trial” & related article

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newmatilda.com

14 My 2018

By on Media & Culture

After Wednesday you may not hear about the trial of one of the world’s most senior Catholic Church officials again, until it’s over. And you won’t even hear about why you’re not hearing about it. Chris Graham reports.

On Friday, the Victorian Department of Public Prosecutions lodged an application with the Country Court of Victoria for a ‘super injunction’ against media coverage of the trial of Cardinal George Pell, who is accused of a number of historical sexual offences.

Cardinal Pell – the Vatican’s treasurer and the third highest ranked Catholic in the world – was committed to stand trial a fortnight ago.

The orders being sought by the DPP, which will be decided on Wednesday morning in the County Court in Melbourne before Chief Judge Peter Kidd, are:

(1)      Publication is prohibited of any report of the whole or any part of these proceedings and any information derived from this proceeding and any court documents associated with this proceeding.

(2)     The prohibition on publication applies within all States and Territories of Australia and on any website or other electronic or broadcast format accessible within Australia.

(3)      For the purpose of this order, ‘publication’ has the meaning attributed to it by s3 of the Open Courts Act, that is to say, it means the dissemination or provision of access to the public by any means including, publication in a book, newspaper, magazine or other written publication, or broadcast by radio or television; or public exhibition; or broadcast or electronic communication.

(4)      The order will expire upon a jury verdict in respect of the charges on the final indictment, or by further order of the court.

Ordinarily, an injunction against media reporting of a trial prevents outlets from reporting the details of the trial. But they can report the existence of the injunction and explain to readers why they’re not reporting the matter.

The order that the DPP is seeking in the Pell matter is so broad that it will operate as a super injunction. The suppression order would be ‘any part of’ the proceedings, meaning the trial could not be reported, nor could media report the fact they’re not allowed to report. If Wednesday’s application for a super injunction is successful, this story will have to be removed from publication.

While ‘super injunctions’ have, traditionally, been a relatively uncommon mechanism in the courts, they’re becoming increasingly popular, particularly in Victoria.

Cardinal Pell, aged 76, is the most senior Catholic charged with sexual offences anywhere in the world. Cardinal Pell has strongly denied the allegations levelled against him.

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Cardinal George Pell’s Sexual Abuse Trials May Be Held in Secret

The New York Times

14 May 2018

By Damien Cave

Cardinal George Pell, a senior Vatican official accused of sexual abuse, appeared in court in Melbourne, Australia, this month. A trial held behind closed doors would limit accountability for the judge, jury and lawyers in the case.CreditDaniel Pockett/EPA, via Shutterstock

SYDNEY, Australia — An Australian court is to decide on Wednesday whether two planned trials for Cardinal George Pell, the senior Vatican official accused of sexual abuse, will be conducted in secret with the public barred from knowing what took place until the proceedings are over.

On Friday, prosecutors in the state of Victoria applied for a “super injunction” against news coverage of the separate trials. Legal experts described the application as an extreme move aimed at keeping juries in both cases from learning anything that might cause bias.

But a trial held behind closed doors would also limit accountability for the judge, jury and lawyers in the case.

“The proposed order is a blanket ban and is the most extreme form of order that can be made,” said Jason Bosland, deputy director of the Centre for Media and Communications Law at Melbourne Law School.

Similar restrictions have already kept private the details and number of charges Cardinal Pell faces, but the proposed injunction would prohibit “any report of the whole or any part of these proceedings and any information derived from this proceeding and any court documents associated with this proceeding.”

The injunction, if approved, would apply to “all states and territories of Australia and on any website or other electronic or broadcast format accessible within Australia.”

Cardinal Pell is the highest ranking Catholic official to be charged with sexual abuse — technically “historical sexual offenses,” as defined by Australian law — and his case is being followed closely worldwide.

He was a major figure in the Vatican for years, and served as Pope Francis’ finance chief, the third-highest-ranking official in the church.

As recently as June, Cardinal Pell dined at a luxury restaurant with Scott Pruitt, the administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency, and discussed holding public debates that would challenge the established science on climate change.

The charges landed a few weeks later. He returned to Australia and his home state of Victoria, where he served as a priest and bishop, and has vigorously denied the charges against him.

Legal experts said public attention has become a weapon wielded by lawyers on both sides, with potential risks to each.

The prosecutors’ request to bar news coverage appears aimed at heading off a possible attempt by Cardinal Pell’s lawyers to argue that unprecedented publicity would make it impossible for fair trials to occur — especially the second trial, which in theory, could be prejudiced by reporting on the first.

In 2010, lawyers representing one of Australia’s most notorious serial killers, Peter Dupas, made a similar argument to Australia’s High Court, insisting that his trial over the murder of Mersina Halvagis should be dismissed because of previous publicity. That attempt failed.

But Cardinal Pell’s profile may be even higher, given the decades in which he has had a prominent public role in Australia, and it is not clear whether the judge will side with privacy or transparency.

Super injunctions have become increasingly common in Victoria courts, and the scope of the requested ban is as wide as possible, with the potential to shroud even innocuous information.

News outlets, for example, may not even be able to report when or where the trial is happening, or even why that information cannot be shared.

“It prevents publication of all details to do with the case, including the fact that proceedings are on foot and, indeed, that a suppression order has been issued,” Professor Bosland said. “You can’t even publish the judge’s name.”

1 Response to “Prosecutors Seek Complete Ban On Media Reporting Of Cardinal George Pell Trial” & related article

  1. Sylvia says:

    What a shame!

    I understand the rationale, but what a shame: a trial behind closed doors.

    I am puzzled by this comment: “If Wednesday’s application for a super injunction is successful, this story will have to be removed from publication.”

    The judge I think would have to rule that the ban/injunction is retroactive to all articles speculating the outcome of Wednesdays’s hearing. I can see silence as of Wednesday, but I can’t see that every media outlet would have to pull every article written before Wednesday?

    Keep the complainants in your prayers.

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