Constrains on Court Reporting


Some journalists choose to specialise in court reporting and become experts in the field. Others learn about it through their basic by covering smaller court hearings. All need to do is  understand the rules, constraints, the law, what can and cannot be reported, and how to deal with the public after the court hearing is over.

In Ireland, journalists have exactly the same rights as ordinary citizens. They can take part in any court case with other members of public, also there is no special seating area for journalists neither. But there is one condition when every member of public and journalists cannot be in courtroom – ‘in-camera’ sessions.

There are only two courts in Ireland where ‘in-camera’sessions are held. One of them is Family Court that hears cases involving domestic issues such as divorce and child custody. The other one is Children’s Court. It is a special court, which deals with issues affecting children. The Children’s Court also takes care of children who are in need of care and protection.

‘In-camera’ is a legal term that means ‘in private’. Generally, in-camera session is a process where the public and press are not allowed to observe the court procedure because all of them involve underage people and almost always anonymity is guaranteed. Journalists are not allowed to report of any Children’s and Family Court cases. Any details can’t be released neither under the family and children protection and journalists should be aware of it.

Sun-judice, is another thing which people that are interested in court reporting should be familiar with. In  law sub-judice means under judgement , and that means that a particular case or matter is under trial or is being considered by judge or court.  Sub-judice comes into effect when someone is charged in court, not arrested.

Irish journalists don’t have the right to protect their sources and in it important to be aware of this. But they should have that right. If journalists cannot guarantee protection of their sources they basically are not able to gather information. According to The phone records of Herald reporter Conor Feehan and Irish Daily Mail journalist Ali Bracken were checked as part of an investigation into alleged garda leaks to the media regarding the death of model Katy French.



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