Monday, 8 July 2013

Irish courts must get with multimedia times says former DPP

The Irish Times explains:

"But the “system” to which Hamilton refers does not any longer reflect reality. The nexus between public opinion, the media and the administration of justice is no longer where it was 13 years ago when it was held that the former taoiseach could not be tried, putting him in effect beyond the law.

Experienced prosecutors are of course right to raise these issues. When and if charges are finally brought to full hearing, claims of prejudice and bias will be among the earliest hares to be coursed by defence lawyers. It will be pleaded that such has been the intensity of public anger, so vile have been the media in their coverage, and such has been the popular rush to judgment that it will be impossible to empanel jurors with open minds.

Hyper-connected world
But in the hyper-connected world of today it is unrealistic to expect that a panel of intelligent adults, possessed of reasonable deductive capacities, can be found who will not to some degree have “internalised” (Brian Cowen’s term) the shocking performance of the Irish financial system and of Anglo in particular. Nobody living in this State has been unaffected. So can prosecutions proceed only where jury members can be shown to have been living in some sort of cocoon? Taken to its logical conclusion it would suggest the criminal courts as a whole should be shut down."

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