Tuesday, October 26, 2021
David Broughton has posted The South African Prosecutor in the Face of Adverse Pre-Trial Publicity (Broughton DWM "The South African Prosecutor in the Face of Adverse Pre-Trial Publicity" PER / PELJ 2020(23)) on SSRN. Here is the abstract:
Another key consideration, in respect of which there is scant literature and case-law, is the question of the impact which adverse pre-trial publicity may have on the prosecutor in instituting and conducting a prosecution. Being unduly influenced by such publicity, a prosecutor may impinge upon the accused's right to a fair trial. There is also a dearth of authority on how the prosecutor is to function in the face of pre-trial publicity which may be prejudicial to the accused. This article seeks to explore these aspects vis-à-vis the prosecutor. It is posited that in an adversarial criminal justice system the same level of impartiality required of the presiding judicial officer is not required of the prosecutor, and that prosecutorial bias towards the guilt of an accused is inevitable where the prosecutor decides to institute a prosecution after studying the police case docket. Thus, exposure of the prosecutor to virulent pre-trial publicity would not be inimical to the fair disposition of the accused's trial provided that the prosecutor conducts the trial fairly and without undue prejudice to the accused and is dedicated to assisting the court in arriving at the truth. Moreover, additional knowledge and understanding of a case which a prosecutor gains from an extraneous source does not amount to bias or prejudice.