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April 8, 2006 1:28 PM   Subscribe

Newsfilter: $1000 fine for linking? The law vs. vigilante justice vs. inadvertent legal ramifications of vigilante justice. [MI]
posted by cybercoitus interruptus (19 comments total)

 
The recent acquittal in New Zealand of three police officers, accused of raping Louise Nicholas twenty years ago, sparked a grassroots movement to publicize through pamphlets, blogs and discussion boards, information that the judge ordered suppressed. Objectors argue that since Nicholas's own “relevant” history was dissected in court and was the subject of media scrutiny, reciprocity, though illegal, would serve justice.

Others say the judget had good reason, due to legal issues of which many activists were unaware. Once made aware, many bloggers, board admins and pamphlet distributors took down or adjusted the contents of their sites or hardcopy documents to comply, describing the situation as “lose-lose”.

Bloggers and pamphleteers who insist on explaining why they disagree with the suppression order, may be considered in contempt of court, and penalized as such. Law enforcement of this should be interesting: “the [suppression] law defines publication as any act that conveys information from one party to another, which could be as simple as a conversation between individuals, so strictly speaking, those distributing leaflets, publishing blogs or even discussing suppressed information over the office water cooler are breaching such an order, which the law says is contempt of court.”

Use Google-fu for details. Possible to discuss without getting Matt in trouble? Obviously, careful which links to post.
posted by cybercoitus interruptus at 1:29 PM on April 8, 2006


Possible to discuss without getting Matt in trouble?

Well, yes, because New Zealand law doesn't apply to Matt, just as American news sources can legally publish information on Canadian court cases which are under judicial publication bans.
posted by solid-one-love at 1:50 PM on April 8, 2006


oh. er...thanks for filling me in. So...non-NZ citizens can link and discuss banned material all they want on non-NZ sites, but NZ citizens are subject to the ban even if posting on, say, an American-based site?
posted by cybercoitus interruptus at 2:55 PM on April 8, 2006


cybercoitus: one would think. This server is hosted in America but the transfer of information from one New Zealand citizen to another regardless of the means (apparently) is the crime. So presumably a New Zealand citizen posting one of the prohibited links here would be violating the law when another NZ citizen saw it.

Outside of that I can't see how one could argue any laws are being broken.
posted by Ryvar at 3:05 PM on April 8, 2006


Help! Help! I'm being suppressed!
posted by zaebiz at 3:10 PM on April 8, 2006


How long before google.nz censors outside links to this site?
posted by ZenMasterThis at 3:47 PM on April 8, 2006




Just out of interest,is this common in other countries too? It seems like a search for name suppression gives only NZ sites.

Also, more related to the post, is it custom in other countries to make previous convictions inadmissible as evidence? It seems pretty strange to rule out mentioning a defendants previous conviction in a new case, when a previous conviction is one of the best indicators of future reoffending.
posted by scodger at 4:08 PM on April 8, 2006


there's a legal technicality. Coincidentally bad timing, or great timing on the part of defense lawyers?
posted by cybercoitus interruptus at 4:18 PM on April 8, 2006


I don't know why the link to the flatmate's dubious credibility didn't work, but here's an index of articles on this case published by this newspaper. The article I tried to link to is from March 17, 2006, "Nicholas' flatmate unhappy with police version..."
http://www.nzherald.co.nz/feature/index.cfm?c_id=1501049
posted by cybercoitus interruptus at 4:30 PM on April 8, 2006


There is more to come from this story I have heard - a rumour of a new complainent.
posted by Samuel Farrow at 4:30 PM on April 8, 2006


Use Google-fu for details. Possible to discuss without getting Matt in trouble? Obviously, careful which links to post.

This is America Where we can say, basically, whatever the fuck we want especially when it's about politics or government. In fact, I'm not even sure if the protections against libel and slander apply to the government.

Certanly, if the information had been posted anonymously on a page outside of New Zealand there would be nothing they could do.
posted by delmoi at 5:36 PM on April 8, 2006


Just out of interest,is this common in other countries too? It seems like a search for name suppression gives only NZ sites.

In the UK it is. It's common for news reporters to say "his name cannot be mentioned for legal reasons". I'd imagine it exists in other commonwealth countries too.
posted by cillit bang at 6:00 PM on April 8, 2006


Here's a relevant precedent in the US. It says what we all hope it would say: foreign court orders cannot be enforced in the US if they would infringe the First Amendment.

My favorite Kiwi blog has posted twice about this: one two
posted by Steven C. Den Beste at 7:07 PM on April 8, 2006


If the general populace knew what was being suppressed it'd be impossible to build a full complement of prejudice free jurors. I'm a New Zealander, and I know what is suppressed, and I know I'd convict those fuckers (well, two of the three, at least) with barely a second thought. So it'd be pretty tough if the complaint against them was false.

I'm pretty sure that another complaint must be in the works. Against some or all of these guys - otherwise I really don't think the continued suppression is justified in the slightest.h

Wanna know what it is? I already said on my website. I'm in big trouble.
posted by The Monkey at 3:23 AM on April 9, 2006


Thanks, Monkey. Can they really go after you when you haven't named any names?

Also, I get that suppression is important to avoid prejudicing future juries (I guess holding future trials somewhere else isn't an option?), but why keep the suppressed info from the Nicholas jury? Is it because the prior conviction is under appeal?

The thing that bugs me is her history was dredged up and used against her, while theirs, which could equally be argued to establish a pattern, is effectively swept under the carpet.
posted by cybercoitus interruptus at 9:02 AM on April 9, 2006


Can they really go after you when you haven't named any names?

Yes they can. The law is very flexible in this regard, basically making any allusions to what is suppressed is enough. But, and this is the important thing, a real human has to make the decision on whether to prosecute or not.

By not naming names (and not using a .nz domain) I'm just making it more difficult for the police to google for relevent keywords in site:nz and find me.

I'm sure that suppression orders can be really great things, and no doubt there are factors in play here that aren't fully understood by people outside the specific legal teams involved, but this whole thing just feels like a horrible miscarriage of justice. I just don't believe that those guys are innocent, and I'm terribly disappointed by the whole thing.

And yeah, that the poor woman went through such a public ordeal, with pretty nasty allegations, dredging up previous complaints she'd made and so on, and yet these guys aren't even compelled to reveal their current address of residence?

Oh noes, I made another allusion!
posted by The Monkey at 4:34 PM on April 9, 2006


Just have to say great name cybercoitis interruptus. Carry on.
posted by nofundy at 7:30 AM on April 10, 2006


Gee, thanks, nofundy! I'll take this opportunity to say I've admired your posts from afar ever since I was a wee lurker. :)
posted by cybercoitus interruptus at 6:50 PM on April 10, 2006


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