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Law society scrutinising 'juicy' court reporting

Published: 9:39AM Monday September 17, 2012 Source: ONE News

Banning cameras in New Zealand courtrooms would help prevent sensationalist and selective reporting of trials, a criminal law spokesperson says.

The call comes after Law Society president Jonathan Temm floated the idea of restricting television reporting in court cases at a criminal law conference in Queenstown on Saturday.

Society spokesman Jonathan Krebs told TV ONE's Breakfast this morning the law to allow cameras in court, which was introduced in the mid-1990s, was not fulfilling its initial purpose of educating and informing the public on the justice system.

"It has worked to a degree, but what's happened is that TV in particular, and journalists and editors, have become selective and sensationalising in what they put on the news.

"That has, in fact, created a negative effect where we have had this push back by society against some of the cases."

Krebs said the sensationalism was highlighted with the Clayton Weatherston murder case , where Weatherston and the lawyers were "demonised" through video coverage.

"The way in which that case, and others such as the Ewen Macdonald and the Kahui trials, are published in the media is selective, therefore all the good juicy sound bites are put on with no real understanding of how the trial works."

The lawyer likened the coverage to a rugby match report which only showed "one punch up in a scrum".

Earlier this month district court Judge Raoul Neave ordered prominent Auckland financier Guy Hallwright to serve 250 hours community work, pay $20,000 in reparation and be disqualified from driving for 18 months after a road-rage incident.

Neave hailed Hallwright as a contributor to society and slammed the media for being vulgar in covering the case.

The Law Society is working to change the court permitted set of rules that allows cameras in court, instead suggesting live-streaming court rooms without editing or commentary.

"We think it's time that they were reviewed, and I think we are getting a lot of support for that," Krebs said.

The Law Society is working to change the court permitted set of rules that allows cameras in court, instead suggesting live-streaming court rooms without editing or commentary.

"We think it's time that they were reviewed, and I think we are getting a lot of support for that," Krebs said.

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