CAN A COURT REPORTER IMPUTE OPINION IN A CRIMINAL TRIAL?

QUESTION OF THE DAY

CAN A COURT REPORTER IMPUTE OPINION IN A CRIMINAL TRIAL?

The Constitution stipulates in section 24 that an accused person is presumed innocent until he/she pleads guilty or is proven guilty. This means that a reporter should regard every charge and allegation in any testimony as mere allegations and nothing more.

Does this mean that what transpires in court should not be published or broadcast? No, because of the dictum, “Justice must not only be done but must be seen to be done,” the courts are transparent. Hence the same section 24 of the Constitution states that court proceedings shall be open to the public.

It follows that while reports from the courts can be published or broadcast they should be fair and accurate and there should be no comment on the merit of the case, nor any suggestion of the guilt of the accused.