Recently in NZ there was a case where a ‘high profile public servant’ was in court facing charges of assaulting his 16 year old son (by punching him repeatedly in the face/head, it was claimed. [By the way, a son who had stolen $700 from his mother’s purse and subsequently spent most of it.]) The judge in the case granted name suppression, at least while the case progressed because there was a fear that the publicity would jeopardise the person’s job. In the event a well-known NZ blogger infringed this court order and named the defendant (something he has done in the past.) People’s views on the matter probably spanned the full spectrum from total support to total condemnation (of the naming). I suspect many were in favour of the ‘outing’ because they feel that name suppression is used far too frequently, especially for other than ‘ordinary’ people and unfairly protects where it is felt protection isn’t warranted. (This is where my opinion lies.)

The case arrived at a ‘not guilty’ verdict, and the defence lawyer condemned the blogger’s actions.

My question is, in this instance was the blogger right or wrong to name the defendant? Was the person named because of who he/she was or was he named because the crime was so terrible that anybody defending it must be guilty and unworthy of protection? It would appear that some facts made public before the case was far into its hearing were based on reported opinions of eye-witnesses to ‘the assault’- and the blogger believed the damning versions rather than alternate views?

Was the court right to order name suppression in this case? How much damage would accrue from a not guilty verdict? Would suppression have been lifted with a guilty verdict? Should any [guilty before the fact] defendant expect protection following the commission of a crime (any crime)? Obviously there is strong argument to protect the identity of victims, especially in cases that involve indecency and children.

It would seem that in this case to name the accused who had name suppression was wrong- or does the blogger believe some people don’t deserve protection in any circumstances, or that name suppression is wrong? (Or if some are given suppression all should?)

What is certain to me is that lawyer Mike Antunovic is wrong.



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