New South Wales has passed legislation to give the media better access to the state’s courtrooms. The new law creates a presumption in favour of broadcasting judgments and sentencing in major criminal trials and judgments in civil cases before the Supreme and District Courts.
Other Australian states allow filming in courtrooms at the discretion of the judge, but do not have a presumption in favour of broadcasting.
There are exceptions for situations where broadcasting would reveal the identity of jurors, protected witnesses or victims, or where the broadcasting would put the safety of someone at risk. If there are suppression orders in place, or if the broadcasting would impact on other trials or police investigations, filming will not occur. Cases involving children will also not be broadcast.
The Chief Judge of the District Court and the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court will also have the ability to prevent proceedings being televised in situations where it would affect the administration of the court.
According to NSW Attorney-General Brad Hazzard, the new legislation is about improving transparency and making the courts more accessible to the public. “We want the community to have confidence in the justice system, so it is important we demystify the court process by allowing cameras inside the courtroom”, he said.
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