An email from a lawyer on the issue of name suppression

A reader who is a lawyer writes about the recent furore over name suppression, and points out more of Simon Power’s appalling law making abilities:

I suspect you and I disagree rather strongly on name suppression, at least pre-conviction.  The “convict by media” approach is such that publicity of a charge can ruin careers.  That said, on conviction, save as to protect a victim, the circumstances should be truly exceptional before name suppression is granted.  A person convicted after due process (to borrow an Americanism) beyond reasonable doubt can not then expect anonymity.  Indeed public opprobrium is an important element of deterrence against committing crime.

I have not seen the decision of Hubble DCJ and always treat media reports with a degree of skepticism but, in general terms, was a little surprised especially in relation to the name suppression or “name secrecy” as the Herald seemed to decide the new legal term should be. 

I went back to the Land Transport Act as the presumption against name suppression is extremely robust to find, to my surprise, s66 has been repealed last year.  This is s66 prior to repeal:

66  – Names of drivers convicted of alcohol or drug-related offences may not be suppressed
Unless for special reasons the court thinks fit to order otherwise, the power of prohibiting the publication of the names of accused persons or of reports or accounts of their arrest, trial, conviction, or sentence conferred on a court by section

The commentary gives examples in 1988 and 1991 of name suppression being granted – both times relating to mental health.

It seems that Simon Power’s Criminal Procedure Bill (now Act) repealed this section, so drink driving, rather than being in a special category against name suppression, is simply treated as any other case under s200 of the Criminal Procedure Act where the court may grant name suppression subject to various statutory tests (which will, one would hope, be further explored on appeal).

There is some logic to having name suppression consolidated under the one Act but it would not have been difficult to have included a clause continuing the presumption against name suppression for drink driving.



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  • TeacherUnionsRscum

    That silly bitch who drove drunk should have thought about her sports career before she did it.

    I don’t go around commiting crime, because I know it’ll mess up my life. Why should it be any different for these people?

  • GregM

    Drunk drivers are a risk to every motorist and pedestrian in the country. With the exception of mental health issues the public I think has a right to know who they are.

    • Rodger T

      I reckon we probably need to know who the loonies are too.

  • dotcom

    I wasn’t asked. But if there had been a choice, I would have rather dropped this “athlete” from the international team, and the need for the name secrecy, and discharge without conviction, would have thus been obviated. Saving people from drunken drivers is a higher priority for me, than having people represent me overseas in a dumb sport.

    • Bunswalla

      In my opinion, some of your logic is faulty. If you drive over the limit, your punishment should be as prescribed in the statutes. If a drink-drive conviction prevents you from travelling overseas (which with very few exceptions it does not) then so be it. But you can’t impose a punishment such as dropping someone from a sports team for breaching a traffic law. If she’s good enough to be in the team then pick her. Whoever the next best person is, she should work on her game rather than wait for someone ahead of her to get caught drunk-driving.

      Calling her sport “dumb” is also plain “dumb” – she doesn’t represent you and it’s extremely unlikely there’s any public funding for the sport.

      However the point about name suppression is valid – it’s ridiculous to protect her regardless of how good she is at any sport or any career. Naming and shaming goes with the territory. Jesse Ryder didn’t drive drunk, but he had a series of alcohol-related behaviour issues and was given plenty of chances.

      My verdict: conviction, fine and ban from driving, no more or less than any other citizen. No name suppression, and you take your chances whether the selectors pick you in the team, and whether you can get a visa to travel.

      • dotcom

        In my opinion, some of your logic is faulty.


  • If the likes of Tony Veitch’s and Marty Devlin’s careers can recover from their respective public stumbles, I really don’t see why name suppression needs to exist for the majority of cases. Those were very public downfalls, and the public and employers, by and large, have gotten over it and given them a chance to redeem themselves.

    Redemption is a major factor in the path out of doing wrong. I never cease to be amazed how tolerant society is of people’s mistakes.

  • Hazards001

    “The commentary gives examples in 1988 and 1991 of name suppression being granted – both times relating to mental health”

    And without even bothering to check I’ll bet a penny to a pound one of those mental health issues related to a Judge that told a trick cyclist that he would commit suicide if convicted. And I’ve got a pretty good idea that the other was related to the judiciary in some way as well but I’m not sure.