By PNG Echo.
In the National Court, yesterday, Justice Makail adjourned two motions that arose as a result of Sam Koim’s alleged contempt – when he published material about the Task Force Sweep’s case in contravention of a court order that expressly forbade him.
The first motion asked the court to dismiss the entire judicial review into the disbanding of Task Force Sweep (the substantive matter) on account of the breach of the order while the second motion sought to have Sam Koim punished for the contempt.
Justice Makail, in his wisdom, decided that the substantive matter should be heard prior. What the…?
So what’s the point of contempt laws?
The whole point of the laws of sub judice contempt and the point of the court’s ruling that Koim not publish anything about this case, was to avoid the case being tried in the court of public opinion and risk that public opinion influencing the court’s decision. (Me, I am of the definite opinion that a full-page advertisement in a national daily newspaper just may be construed as carrying some influence – is there even a question?)
Furthermore, it has been argued by Professor Michael Chesterman, Professor of Law and Acting Judge, District Court of New South Wales, that “stopping the trial and fining the media [the offender] – should either occur together or not occur at all [in the finding of a charge of sub judice contempt].”
Under the circumstances, it seems logical that the contempt charges be heard first as they will quite likely have a profound impact. in law and in actuality, on the substantive case – indeed if Koim is found guilty and the motions succeed there may not be a substantive case to try.
So where’s the logic in this ruling? In making this ruling, Makail has managed to effectively make at least one of the motions absolutely pointless – that’s not how it should work.