Typically, people do not seem to want to respond to my letters so I was grateful to receive a response from a Supreme Court Judge. Before I sound too important, I should note my question was answered alongside a number of other people’s questions.
Before revealing the answer, I should note that my question was truncated somewhat, perhaps changing the meaning. The full question (with the deleted sections noted) was:
Supreme Court Judge, Justice Riordan said:
“You will never read in the Herald Sun, or in any other paper for that matter, the paper saying, ‘Justice Riordan got the sentence right again.’”
Justice Riordan doesjudges do a good job of sentencing and for this to be misrepresented to the community creates problems: We are left with a ridiculous situation where ordinary people, through their interaction with newspapers/TV/Facebook, have come to believe they know better than judges.
Q: Why aren’t more journalists ever charged with scandalising the Court?
Would judges prefer to be unfairly criticised so they can collectively play the martyr rather than be justifiably criticised and have to improve?
Either way, Justice Lasry's response seems relevant:
Well, we’ve been close to that a few times but I think the answer is because not many journalists do scandalise the court. If they were then there’d be a consequence. But most journalists - sounds like I’m sucking up to them - but really, most journalists do the best they can to report what they see in court and what happens in court. So it only happens when a journalist decides in a particular case to take on the judge or to be critical of the judge in a way that is scandalous.
I’ve said many times, I have no problem with sentences of mine or anyone else being criticised so long as the criticism’s reasonably objective and informed. And if it’s informed criticism - I understand why people want to criticise us. And the pretext of the question refers to the fact that what you get is an article in a newspaper that may be half a column long - the devastating consequences of a crime and a figure.
And to a lot of people, that figure just isn’t long enough imprisonment because they haven’t understood what else is in there. The only way people can be informed obviously is to go online and read the judge’s reasons and they don’t always make really interesting reading but they’re there.
While I appreciate the fact that his Honour answered my question, I do wonder whether we were operating on the same wavelength: In essence, my question was:
Can we explore whether community awareness of the sentencing process is operating adequately? If not - what are the ramifications and what should we do about it?
And, in essence, his Honour's answer seemed to be:
The media is operating inside the rules, so there is no problem.
It may be that his Honour is using Rock Logic whereas I am using Water Logic.
For those interested in questions asked by other people, here is a list: