Jun 29, 2013 News Comments Off on Kaieteur News Editor, reporter fined $200,000 for contempt
Editor in Chief of Kaieteur News Mr. Adam Harris, and reporter Rehanna Ramsay were fined $150,000 and $50,000 respectively after they appeared before Justice Brassington Reynolds charged with contempt.
The newspaper had published an article on Thursday June 27 that forced the judge to declare a mistrial in a murder case. The newspaper published the details of a voir dire.
Justice Brassington Reynolds yesterday at the trial called the article a “jaundiced” account that imported evidence that was not even before the court and some of which might not have been heard by the court.
According to the judge both parties, the defense and the prosecution, were upset, which caused him to discontinue the trial. Justice Reynolds chastised both the reporter and the editor, stating that the “quality control” of what hits the press lies at the feet of the latter. He said that this had to be sadly lacking in this instance.
Attorney at law Khemraj Ramjattan, in a plea to the judge explained that the reporter Rehanna Ramsay has been working at Kaieteur News for about a year and would be classified as a “junior reporter”. The lawyer said that Ramsay mistook the proceedings in the court for an open court trial, when in fact it was a voir dire. She submitted the report which was carried by the editor.
Ramjattan said that a full front page explanation was carried, after the newspaper recognized the damage. Ramjattan pleaded with the judge that although there should be some form of reprimand, he urged for leniency.
The judge in responding to the lawyer urged that whoever is doing the court reporting to be well grounded. Brassington said that person cannot be inexperienced. The reporter should be in a position to recognize a voir dire.
The judge added that the “gate keeping” was flawed and this led to a slippage which is considerably reprehensible.
Harris was fined $150,000 with an alternative of 14 days in jail. His reporter Rehanna Ramsay was fined $50,000 with an alternative of seven days on the contempt charge. The fines have already been paid.
The Judge filed the charges against the two after the newspaper carried details of the voir dire of the murder trial.
A voir dire is a trial within a trial that is conducted without the jury’s presence. It is mostly conducted to ascertain specific facts in a case and whether those facts would be admissible during the trial. The details of the voir dire are not made public since those details could prejudice the case.
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