Sub-judice rule vs press freedom

Sub-judice rule vs press freedom


All netizens must know the answer to this question: What is this sub-judice rule as against the freedom to write about cases in courts?

To begin with, let us look at the purpose of this SUB-JUDICE RULE.  Sub-judice means literally as "under judgment."

The purpose is to shield the judgment from influences that are not found in the evidence presented.  This is of vintage rule that was born when there was no internet and there were only newspapers and books to rely on for news.

Now, during those times when sub-judice rule was born, the concepts of freedoms of the press, of speech, and of expression were still about to be born.

So you can see upon first impression that sub-judice rule is opposite of the freedom of the press, of speech, and of expression.

But the rise of the populist doctrines that advocate that all the governmental powers belong to the people and not the governors or the queen or king eroded little by little the importance of sub-judice rule.

Sub-judice rule was made the rule because of the unproven proposition that the jury hearing the evidence may be influenced.

In the Philippine jurisdiction, it was also adopted during the infancy of the Philippine government upon the fear that the judges trying cases may be influenced.

This has, however, been eroded when the Supreme Court has time and again issued rulings upholding media coverage of trials overriding the concerns of the accused.  We saw the trial of Erap so publicized. We have been seeing the Ampatuan trial being fed to the media that the Supreme Court even granted my petition to allow media coverage of the Maguindanao massacre trial.  Look at the impeachment trials of Joseph Estrada and Renato Corona, these were in full view of the entire Philippines.

In the final analysis, we see no evidence that the media and the public frenzy has actually influenced the judgments of the juries (who are ordinary people having not schooled in the science of law of evidence) or the lone judges (schooled in the science of evidence) sitting alone to hear the evidence.

So that in the US, jury trials are even allowed to be covered.  Look at the controversial OJ Simpson trial that was covered from Day 1 up to the Judgment Day.  Look at the trial of the tele-novela case of Casey Anthony charged with killing her own daughter by means of drowning in the pool, which was also covered from Day 1 up to the End.  Look at the trial of the doctor accused of negligence that led to the death of Michael Jackson.  And many others.

This means that the interest of the public that trials must be transparent in the name of fairness and the interest of justice is to secure that there will be no manipulations that will occur.

After all, the Constitution proclaims that all accused have the right to IMPARTIAL PUBLIC trials.  And the only way to make it public is to allow the media and the netizens to spread words about trials on the internet.

And to the contrary, the Constitution proclaims in Section 4 of Article III: "NO LAW SHALL BE PASSED ABRIDGING FREEDOM OF EXPRESSION, OF SPEECH, AND OF THE PRESS..."

In short, the interest of the public for trials to be fair can be served best when the proceedings are opened to public watchful eyes.
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