Bloggers and other social media publications are being warned to be mindful when “reporting” on ongoing trials in the law courts of Barbados, as prejudicial content could lead to a contempt of court charge.
The recent warning came when a local blogger, using the rubric The Chase Files, was called to court and ordered to remove a publication that had the potential to prejudice the jury in an ongoing criminal trial.
The prosecution and defence had closed their cases in the matter, and were set to make closing addresses to the jury when judicial officials were made aware that an article making the rounds on social media had made a connection between the ongoing case and a previous trial in which the accused had been jailed for a similar offence, as well as other commentary.
The post was subsequently removed at the request of the Madam Justice Pamela Beckles who was presiding over the court.
However, two of the nine jurors hearing the case admitted to seeing the post and were excused from the panel.
On Wednesday, after the case was adjudicated, Justice Beckles addressed the matter.
“We hope going forward that all of us are very cautious with respect to our actions on social media,” she said.
“That arose in this case and caused us to reduce the jury pool to the point that we had to in this case. A lot of learning came out of that experience anyway, so I am hoping the information could get out there and the public could get informed that we have to be very careful while trials are being adjudicated and not before the jury as yet for deliberations and have to be careful what information you have out there,” she said. (FW)