Page 2156 - Week 07 - Wednesday, 22 June 2005
MR STEFANIAK: I move:
That the Speaker’s ruling be dissented from
I do so with reluctance, Mr Speaker, but, with respect, I feel that you were wrong. You talked about the question of innocence and guilt and said that we may have some effect on that. What we are dealing with here is a situation in relation to police handling of a case—
MR SPEAKER: Order! I think that you have to come to where my ruling on sub judice is wrong. We run into the same position where you run the debate on the issue that you want to raise without dealing with the issue of sub judice. I have already ruled in relation to the sub judice convention. I am very happy for you to rise and dissent from my ruling, Mr Stefaniak, but I do not want to deal with the question that I have just ruled on.
MR STEFANIAK: I accept that, Mr Speaker. The sub judice rule is there for matters that are actually before the courts. We are dealing with a situation before a matter even got to the courts. It does not have any effect on the points you have raised, Mr Speaker, as to innocence or guilt or the effect that a discussion in this chamber might have in relation to a jury’s deliberations on innocence or guilt or, indeed, on anything else in relation to a matter that is actually before the courts and that is subject to court proceedings.
Charges may or may not have even been laid at the point in time, which is a very different thing entirely. The matter has not got to court. The matter, for some reason, may not go to court. There may have been some intervening steps after the police apprehended the alleged perpetrator and after the 16-year-old girl was taken to the station. There might have been further incidents occurring there that might, conceivably, have led to nothing happening. That probably seems unlikely on the facts. But we are dealing with a very early step in the process of a matter ending before the courts, which is where the sub judice rule would apply.
Mr Pratt’s question actually goes to the matter of handling and procedure. It does not go to any of the substantive issues that would find themselves before the courts. If, in fact, the matter has got to court as yet—I am unaware of that; someone might like to enlighten me as to whether the matter actually has got to court, whether any charges have been laid and the matter actually has got to court by means of the accused actually appearing or not—anything that occurs after that, I would agree with you, would be sub judice. But not this. This is simply a very early step in the chain of someone going to court. The steps invariably are that allegations are made and sometimes an arrest is made and people are taken to the watch house. The steps taken then are in relation to questions being asked and charges being laid. The matter then goes to court, as it has to by law.
But we are dealing with what occurred very early in that chain. It is before the court proceedings. My submission to the Assembly is that the sub judice rule does not apply because we are not dealing with a matter that is actually before the courts. We are not dealing with anything in relation to that point. We are dealing with another issue entirely.