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Transport Act as the presumption against name suppression is extremely robust to find, to my surprise, s66 has been repealed last year.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It seems that Simon Power’s Criminal Procedure Bill (now Act) repealed this section, so drink driving, rather than being in a special category against name suppression, is simply treated as any other case under s200 of the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.

Discuss.


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As much at home writing editorials as being the subject of them, Cam has won awards, including the Canon Media Award for his work on the Len Brown/Bevan Chuang story. When he’s not creating the news, he tends to be in it, with protagonists using the courts, media and social media to deliver financial as well as death threats.

They say that news is something that someone, somewhere, wants kept quiet. Cam Slater doesn’t do quiet and, as a result, he is a polarising, controversial but highly effective journalist who takes no prisoners.

He is fearless in his pursuit of a story.

Love him or loathe him, you can’t ignore him.

To read Cam’s previous articles click on his name in blue.

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