A District Court judge today lifted his ban on internet publication of the names and images of two men accused of murder.
Judge David Harvey made the order when Nathan Tuiti Reo Mutunga Williams, 23, and Daniel Bobby Tumata, 22, appeared in Manukau Youth Court on August 25 charged with murdering 14-year-old John Hapeta in Weymouth, south Auckland…
In his original order, the Judge expressed concern that web-based publication of the defendants' names would prevent them from receiving a fair trial. (Tell that to Jose Padilla and Salim Hamdan, both of whom are probably quite glad that their names got out onto the web.)
Until today Judge Harvey only allowed publication of names and images of the two murder accused in newspapers and on television and their names to be broadcast on radio, but not on the internet – including blogs.
Thanks to a tip from a rather large, non-New Zealand blog, I suspect that more New Zealanders know the names of the defendants, and are following this case, than would have had Judge David Harvey, a self-professed expert in "cyber-law" who understands very little about human behavior on the web, not issued his order in the first place. At least he now recognizes the futility. Or does he?
Judge Harvey said it was acknowledged there were occasions when the interests of a fair trial would take precedence over the freedom of expression right of the Bill of Rights.
But evidence presented by the media showed that the "document does not die" theory of the internet was significantly mitigated by the media's ability to remove material from the internet as required.
This ability to remove material did not constitute a total blanket on information but it would be difficult to find.
"There may be those with a high level of technical skill in internet use who might be able to locate particular material but such skills are, in my experience, in the minority and not a majority of the 70 per cent of New Zealanders who have internet access," Judge Harvey said.
According to Judge Harvey, use of google blogsearch requires a high level of technical skill in internet use, unavailable to 70 percent of New Zealanders!
In the event these either of these men are found not guilty, I'll happily remove all references to their names from this site, but as for references to Judge David Harvey? Never.