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KEY TAKEAWAYS

  • Twelve Australian media corporations pleaded guilty to charges of contempt of court in the Supreme Court of Victoria on Monday for violation of the Victoria County Court's decision to prohibit Cardinal George Pell from being designated a registered child sex abuser in the state until February 2019.
  • Last year, Pell was cleared on allegations of sexual assault after serving 13 months in jail.
  • In December 2018, the clergyman was convicted by a jury for sexually molesting two choirboys, making him the highest-ranking Catholic official accused of child sex offences.

FURTHER DETAILS

  • Journalism on the conviction and decision was hogtied across Australia by the County Court of Victoria to ensure that the Cardinal was granted a fair trial on further proceedings against him. Those charges were dismissed later.
  • Australian media corporations have acknowledged in court that they have compromised the gag injunction by reporting allusions to Cardinal George Pell's indictment for child sexual assault after it was repealed in 2018. The plea deal prohibits any journalist from being arrested for assault.
  • The State Prosecutor announced that he had withdrawn all allegations of sub judice persecution against all media organizations and all allegations against 15 writers and editors of certain publications, radio and television stations.
  • The stunning deal was reached almost two years after the charges were brought, almost three months after the publicity trial started and 10 months after Pell was convicted by the High Court.

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BREACH OF ORDER & DISMISS CHARGES

  • If a Court finds that you breached (contravened) an Order without a ‘reasonable excuse’, the penalty will depend on the type of breach (contravention) and the particulars of your own case.
  • Breaches of suppression orders can be punished with up to five years jail and fines of nearly A$1,00,000 for individuals and nearly A$500,000 for companies.
  • Some charges had been dismissed over the past two years but 79 charges remained as of January.
  • Last week, the former editor of the Age, Alex Lavelle, the first media witness to testify in the courtroom, told the court that he ran a story just to justify why the newspaper did not cover the news that had been published internationally, as the newspaper had received several inquiries from the press.
  • A spokeswoman for Nine said in emailed comments: "Our decision to enter a guilty plea was important to protect our individual people, who were simply going about their jobs."

THE CONCEPT OF MEDIA TRIALS

This concept of finding the perpetrator to be a prisoner right before the verdict of the court is referred to as media trials. That is the general publicity of the guilt of the accused and the imposition of a certain impression of him, irrespective of the decision handed down by the court of law.

The idea of the effect of media trials is such that the media have been active in portraying incidents that continue to be kept a secret. While the media serves as a watchdog and gives us a forum where people can see what's going on in a culture, it's important to know that this has only caused the entire world to be skewed against one group or one individual.

Instances of Media trial can be seen in the virtue of the Indian Society as well, wherein branded news headlines were flashed during the Jessica Lal Case, the Priyadarshini Mattoo Case and the Bijal Joshi Rape Case.

The OJ Simpson Case is said to be the epitome of the fact that media influences the mindsets of a majority of individuals and shapes the viewpoints of majority of individuals and subsequently, the court.

DO YOU BELIEVE THAT THE SUPRESSING OF JOURNALISTIC FREEDOM IN THIS PARTICULAR SCENARIO NECESSARY? WHAT IS YOUR OPINION? LET US KNOW IN THE COMMENTS BELOW!


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