Sub judice

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

In law, sub judice, Latin for "under judgment," means that a particular case or matter is currently under trial or being considered by a judge or court. The term may be used synonymously with "the present case" or "the case at bar" by some lawyers.

In England and Wales, New Zealand, Australia, India, Pakistan and Canada it is generally considered inappropriate to comment publicly on cases sub judice, which can be an offence in itself, leading to contempt of court proceedings. This is particularly true in criminal cases, where publicly discussing cases sub judice may constitute interference with due process.

In the United States, there are First Amendment concerns about stifling the right of free speech which prevent such tight restrictions on comments sub judice. However, State Rules of Professional Conduct governing attorneys often place restrictions on the out-of-court statements an attorney may make regarding an ongoing case. Furthermore, there are still protections for criminal defendants, and those convicted in an atmosphere of a circus have had their convictions overturned for a fairer trial.

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Judicial abdication is not the remedy for an infringement of the sub judice rule, especially where serious accusations are made against the police and government leaders. Such accusations should be scrutinized by the judiciary in the public interest. The reckless remarks of politicians should not frustrate that process.


And then there is this from Gary Mason's column in the Globe

"The sub judice rule made sense at a time in which trials were almost exclusively trials by jury and there was a feeling that comments made outside a trial might unduly influence jury members," said Alan Young, a professor at Osgoode Hall Law School in Toronto and a leading academic authority on the law in Canada.

"But now, 98 per cent of criminal cases are heard without a jury. The sub judice rule is a bit more of a historical relic than a political rule today.

"Politicians hide behind the sub judice rule," Mr. Young said in an interview. "That's why it won't be changed because it's a good sanctuary for the political actor. The reality is [sub judice] is not as significant as it used to be."

1 comment:

Anonymous said...


Former A-G smells cover-up in sale of BC Rail

By Ian Mulgrew, Vancouver SunApril 29, 2009