The Essay of Tania Billingsley discussed in a previous post saw a young woman jeopardise a possible court case in exchange for a minute of fame and some mileage for the airing of her views on the much politicised idea of New Zealand’s ‘Rape Culture’.
She’s already been forgotten about, and the chances of a court case are now resting close to zero.
But there is the distinct possibility that this will provoke further attempts to use the media to double the shame, post court case.
The barrier of course is suppression.
The victim of an indecent act is outraged her attacker gets a say in whether she can reveal her identity.
The woman is making a legal bid to lift her name suppression to tell her story without fear of breaking the law.
But the man who attacked her has a legal right to challenge her bid and a hearing date has been set.
This article: Indecent act man challenges victim’s bid to be named highlights the concept that if convicted the man should be excluded from legal participation in any suppression proceedings.
Complainants in sexual assault cases automatically get name suppression and that comes with the assumption that there is some form of ownership by the victim rather than a legal protection to prevent damage.
Suppression pre-hearing should be as much about protection for the defendant should they be found not guilty.
In Billingsley’s case there was most likely no one to challenge the lifting of suppression.
What is being questioned is the legal right of the defendant to be present at proceedings that concern them; in this case that the man should be allowed a legal right to challenge the woman’s application, post-conviction.
Should he be excluded from the legal protection of damage?
Suppression is about damage – so what is being asked for here is the transfer of the authority of the court to rule on possible damage, to ownership of that suppression order by the victim.
Beyond that the end result of what is being demanded is the unassailable right to tell your story the way you want to post court case.
In other words a conviction embodies the unassailable right to an undetermined level of shame.
This situation doesn’t just apply to sexual assault cases.
The defendant is this Murder/Arson case also has name suppression.
Peter Dixon, 77, died in the bedroom of his Manurewa home in February 2011. At the time the Fire Service said there was nothing to suggest the fire was suspicious.
A 47-year-old woman, whose name is suppressed, was arrested 18 months later after what police described as “a lengthy and complex investigation”.
I am not sure why this woman would still have name suppression. Presumably there are some grounds for the order on the basis of damage.
Then again are we be heading down the path where suppression becomes not an decision of the court to prevent damage, but a legal privilege for women?
It also popped up in the previous post King – I’m sorry for being a woman concerning the bath tub deaths of infants.
Final name suppression was granted “by the slimmest of margins”, Justice Ronald Young said.