Read This Before Posting Anything About Jill Meagher

A profoundly heartbreaking story unfolded before the eyes of the nation this week as the disappearance of ABC employee Jill Meagher in Melbourne dominated the headlines. Friends and family had their worst fears confirmed early this morning when police found the body of Jill buried in bushland. A man has been arrested and charged with alleged rape and murder, and amidst all the chaos, Victoria Police are urging people to give it a rest on Twitter and Facebook.

Messages of hate directed towards the accused have been thrown all over the internet on Facebook, Twitter and other social networks, but Victoria Police are calling for calm.

Social media was credited for helping to solve the Meagher case, but now it looks like it may just hurt it.

It all has to do with contempt of court, you see. Victoria Deputy Police Commissioner Graham Ashton explains:

Victoria Police has been overwhelmed by the enormity of the public support for this investigation expressed through social media.

Whilst the widespread willingness to assist has been most welcome, I must now ask that members of the social media community refrain from posting inappropriate comments that might jeopardise a successful prosecution.

Legislation dictates that nothing should be published that might prejudice the trial of an accused after they have been arrested or charged. That point has now been reached and as Jill's husband rightly pointed out this morning, restraint must be exercised so that the judicial process can run its course.

Victoria Police remains incredibly grateful to all those who have sought to assist our investigations. Our thoughts and sincere condolences are with Jill's family and friends at this most difficult time.

The courts represent the law of the land, and every citizen needs to respect the law for it to function correctly. To tweet or post something in contempt of court could risk the entire prosecution process, so please: think before you tweet.

Our thoughts go out to Jill Meagher's family in this difficult time.

[Victoria Police]

Image: AFP


Comments

    That's a very good thing to remember, ANYTHING you say can be twisted by his lawyer - so no matter how you feel, save it up until after the verdict is in.

    Once it's online, it's fair-game for the lawyer to use it to help his client - don't give that lawyer the ammo, and tell your friends to do the same.

      BTW I think we are forgetting that the D.N.A evidence collected on this will be a bit hard for any lawyer to refute!!
      It will be interesting to see who the defense is!!!

        DNA evidence or not, a trial can be thrown out if its found that a person cannot be given a fair trial due to jury bias. It's happened *MANY* times in the past and is happening very frequently these days due to social media vigilantes. Don't believe me? Look it up. Google is your friend.

      This comment has been deemed inappropriate and has been deleted.

      Not just until the verdict is in, but until all appeals (if any are pursued) have been exhausted. This is also important to remember.

    This comment has been deemed inappropriate and has been deleted.

      Jurors may be swayed by social media and go into the trial with pre-conceived ideas about the case.

        This comment has been deemed inappropriate and has been deleted.

        Everyone is entitled to the presumption of innocence. If the Twitterverse is full of presumption of guilt, that is prejuidical, because how can any accused bve confident of a fair trail? Also, details which might not be admissable in a case might find their way on to social media, and also be prejudicial.
        In the case of every trial, the accused must be allowed to be judged fairly - and not in a kangaroo court of people making assumptions.
        There is also a case of identification, sometimes... you know that before someone is charged, we see their faces. After, their faces might be pixillated.
        People need to pull their heads in whenever something like this comes up, and allow the police and the justice systems to operate without interruption or disturbance.

        I was summoned for jury duty a few years ago. That argument shouldn't hold water, because once jurors have been selected, the rules clearly state that they should not be reading anything about the case outside of what is presented in the courtroom. If a trial has to be dismissed because of something like this, it is the juror's fault, not the fault of people posting their thoughts online.

          I think that comment might not be entirely accurate. As jurors can't possibly know if they are going to be asked to be or selected for jury duty in a particular case it is what they've read or had the opportunity to read before being summoned for jury duty that is the stumbling block. If the defence lawyers are able to show that the amount of discussion in the social and/or mainstream media is prejudicing the accused right to be thought innocent until proven guilty, this might prevent a trial being held

            extraordinary crimes deserve extra-ordinary measures-i.e trial by judge it seems.

          But I'm a hipster and deserve to cure cancer and save wounded animals by liking posts on facebook and pretending I care about the world.....

      Matt, it can be as simple as defense saying that the accused cannot receive a fair trial because the jury, made up of ordinary people in Melbourne who could be reading about the case online, will already be predjudiced against him and more likely to find him guilty without considering all the evidence.

        We have a case in the west at present ,which is trial by judge only because of this fact-the Rayney case.

      I'm not a lawyer, but my guess would be if you could demonstrate that someone (or many) on the jury have been exposed, via facebook or twitter, to prejudicial comments then they can't possibly be objective. Basically, trying to point out that presumption of innocence isn't happening if its very likely that those on the jury already have an opinion about the accused.

      It is probably more along the lines of writing something which could potentially influence a juror rather than having any direct bearing on the facts of the case. If, as is *incredibly* common, any media (old or new style) presents the standard "he's as guilty as sin, string him up!" type mentality then that could be claimed to be prejudicing potential jurors such that it reduces the chances of a fair trial.

      Whether or not the accused is guilty, he should be given a fair trial. Please note, "fair" does not mean "go easy on him".

        Ah, thanks heaps guys, that makes sense. I'm guilty of writing something before the trial, and I wrote it with the assumption that he's guilty. I'd guess I expected my comment to become void if he was fount innocent. What I said was a generalization against the person who did the crime, regardless of who it turns out to be, I guess I just unleashed some anger on the suspect too soon, it is a very upsetting case.

      Tom stole apple. 10,000 people post on twitter he stole apple, no doubt about it, it was red and he had horns, a forked tongue and a spiked tail, even though all of these people were not there to witness this apply being stolen. Everyone in the school reads this social media, makes jokes about Tom, someone even graffiti's a picture of Tom eating at apple on the playground wall.

      In Tom's trial, defence argues that no-one in the school can be elected to the Jury since they all have pre-conceived notions of what took place. Some will even swear on oath that he has a forked tongue and spiked tail.

      Case is un-trailable in this school.

      Tom walks free to enjoy his apple.

        Sorry should read: "Tom stole apple from school canteen" which will clear things up a bit

      Don't know about you, but every post I've seen about this has:

      1) Assumed guilt.
      2) Wants him dead.

      If you were his lawyer, and even 1 person on the jury had facebook or twitter, which I imagine will be the case, you can argue on appeal that they were contanimated by social media.

        This comment has been deemed inappropriate and has been deleted.

    Sadly, those carrying the pitchforks and flaming torches, who appear after bad guys get caught for a sickening crime, are the ones least likely to understand the need for restraint. But they're always the first to fire up when some clever lawyer gets them off on a technicality such as excessive social media exposure.

    They really should refine the legal system to take the current state of social media and community connectedness into account. Perhaps providing the option for judge only trials if they think any jury would be too prejudicial? I hear there are certain instances in other countries where they have three judges in session to weigh up the facts instead of having a jury and it works pretty well.

    Last edited 28/09/12 5:07 pm

      Yeah agreed. The only issue is that the Judges themselves are not immune to prejudices, whether they are conscious of it or not. Still, it probably beats a big case being thrown out because they can't filly the jury stand.

        At least a judge should be able to do better, since they are supposed to be professionals at weighing up evidence.

          No argument there.

            Judge only trials do exist within Australia, just look at the current murder trial in WA for Lloyd Rayney.

    Nothing i say online will change the facts of this case. Its up to our farcial judicial system to get it right for once.

      What you say may not have an effect on the facts (unless you are a witness at the trial) - but what you say may well influence the jury members who sit in judgment of the case.

      As for our "farcial" judicial system - did you actually mean farcical? And, more to the point, what do you find "farcial"? What would you replace the "farcial" system with? If you have a better system than the one we have then I'm sure that the Judiciary would love to know.

      Yeah, and if you want them to get it right you'll hold your tongue until after the trial like a sensible person would. This has nothing to do with the facts and everything to do with prejudice.

    yeah well social media is just that,people being social and talking..it is not printed in paper to be sold not put online on news websites that you need to either register or pay to view..
    you may as well dictate to people that they can not talk about this on the phone in email or even in there own homes or at the pub....

      You need to understand, that you are still publishing your post or comment when its online for people to see... in this case, facebook and twitter very well may find itself liable for this going on

    it's a bit funny.. that they're putting a bit of a stop to the social media (facebook, twitter) about all these... when if there was to be any preconceived idea of guilty or not guilty, it has already started from the major media that has written or covered thus far. (i.e : The Age, Herald Sun, the major TV news networks). So how about go after the 'big guys' first... because that's where most of the initial impression that most people made came from... -___-

    You guys are missing the point - no comments

    Social media is absolutely destroying this world and our basic values. I am one of the few gen y's with enough sense to keep my mouth shut and maintain relationships privately, when will people see the bigger picture? This is a very sad event, but the family deserve some quiet time.

    Why did this murder get so much media coverage?

      Because the victim is white,middle-class,photogenic and works in the media.On a personal note I have a good friend who is the same age, looks somewhat similar and lives of Sydney road, so it really hit home with me.

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Missing_white_woman_syndrome

        What's the point of posting this? I find it heartless and pathetic at you thinking it's a 'syndrome' when something goes national. You have to bear in mind that it's not because the victim was 'white' it's because she's young, works in the media (ABC) and only lived in Australia for 3 years. I guess you're the type that would blame the victim because she asks for it. Pathetic.

          I am thinking its a syndrome because it is a syndrome. I never said it was her fault, it is an absolute tragedy that anything like this ever happens. I was simply pointing out why it got so much media attention.

            You're an idiot.

            The massive social media effort, the fact she was abducted on a busy road, the cops request for public help, her employment IN the media had more to do with the media attention than the very American 'White Girl Syndrome'.

            @mansonite I agree with you and thanks for the link. I knew there was some name for it and this is classic MWWS. With all due respect to Jill's family, the media have really gone overboard on this and today tonight in typical sensationalist style lead the charge. Social media just adds fuel to the fire. RIP Jill

      And because being randomly abducted from the street hits home with more people due to the "it could happen to me/my sister/my wife etc" factor.

      Yes, I agree.
      I don't wish to diminish Jill's murder, however did we show such an out pouring of grief for so many others who have suffered such a fate??? Let us not forget young Virgina Morse, Ian Lamb, Ivan Milat's seven (known) victims and the 35 victims of Port Arthur. Then there is Keisha Abrahams starved to death at the hand of her parents. Also let us not forget the toddler Dean Shillingsworth murdered by his mother and put in a suitcase and thrown into a pond! There are so many murdered persons, let us not forget any of them or their families. R.I.P all murdered persons, may you have not dies in vain.

    Does anyone think that reverse psychology could be used in this instance?

    Under these circumstance especially for Jill (RIP) we all should respect the wishes of her husband and her family to ease the comments but in other words we can write comments of comfort for her family, husband and especially for her co workers who was with her. I could write so much about that person but I will not ... But all I can say is that ... I never knew nor met Jill but my heart is aching in pain ... I just don't understand WHY!!!!!! There is only one God, may he show the road that will lead to the right decision ... RIP Jill xxxx

      i must say i agree here we need to pray for jills family and her co worker he will be blaming his self forever and even her hubby will need heaps of prayer i wish her family well and her friends as well ok... i even think that the person who killed her deffenitly needs prayer ...

    Re Glenn's comment at the top, anything that is posted might be used by the defence lawyer, but is equally available to the prosecution. Ultimately, the issue will be decided by jury, and as this is a criminal case, beyond reasonable doubt. As to my feelings about rape/murder, I lost two friends when I was in High School, the 16 year old girl was the rape victim, and the 17-year old boy just happened to be talking to her at the time, nearly 50 years ago. And for why?

    i was onced silenced by the cops for for what i saw them do i will not stop saying and doing what i want ever again .Victoria Deputy Police Commissioner Graham Ashton y dont you just change the law again .oh wait that will only protect the guilty .oh wait thats how all our laws work

    Facebook is the biggest load of crap on the internet its designed for retards and should be shut down. Its dumping share price is testament to its long term insignificance.

      I totally agree!
      I too think that Facebook is not entirely relevant to my interests. And I agree that it is designed for people whose needs are different to those of myself.
      But don't shut it down. Then the terrorists would win :P

      And FB's long term significance is irrelevant to it's ability to prejudice a jury in a current or future criminal trial. Social media exists, and it is highly significant right now. That's the point!

    So sorry to hear the news. The thoughts of our whole family go with Jills family and friends. I cant believe the world can be so cruel.

    People need to respect what vic

    This White woman syndrome you speak of is nonsense...I'm not the sort to take a news story so to heart but this ase really affected me. Maybe because I'm mid 20s, English living in Australia for 3 years and have walked home so many times alone and that it could of been me. I believe the fact she worked at ABC did help to get this story alot of media coverage however Melbourne as a city is full of travellers

    We hope the damage hadn't already been done.

    ...especially from Ireland. I followed this story from when I first seen a poster of missing Jill on my way to work on Monday morning. I followed it because of the fact a young woman just vanished a suburb away from where I live. It had nothing todo with the colour of her skin, the fact shes middle class or anything else other than the fact a young woman does not just vanish into thin air. I was following it inthe hope she was found safe and well. Some story's get more coverage on the news, for the reasons you mentioned I admit but I don't believe that was the case here!
    The media coverage this case managed to credit is the reason this case has now been solved.

    Once a jury is selected, it is clearly instructed to disregard anything they may have heard, read, or spoken of that may relate to the case. That only the facts are relevant in the court room. No speculation, rumour or hearsay is evidential. Whether any member of a jury has read or heard anything about the case, a court will take into account what may prejudice that case. Any judge worth a cracker will direct the jury to never discuss anything they may have heard prior to the case being adjudicated. These arguments will take place before any evidence is presented, and the judge will make a determination on whether the case can proceed. The jury will be clearly directed relating to these matters and will be reminded to bring no prejudice into the jury room. If the directions are very clear from the judge and a ruling made under law, the defence can only appeal after the case has ended. A judge knows that hearsay can precede any case, and our courts understand this. It also understands that modern jurors are intelligent enough to focus on the case and are able to put any bias aside once clearly direct to do so. One can only hope that the perpetrator of the crime will plead their guilt, and save us all from a harrowing ordeal.

      Thanks for explaining the Judicious "off-side rule", Kroo.
      Anyone with half a brain realizes that judges live on a different planet to the rest of us, and this is a country where you can get away with absolute murder if you've had a tragic/hard/poverty-stricken/sub-cultured , wrong-coloured miserable existence, to the point where you can sodomize your own offspring AND emerge from prison armed with a degree, probably in humanities, or something equally noble.
      Lets not forget that Jill was someone's wife, daughter, Gran daughter, sister, cousin,niece, friend and colleague, she'll never be anyone's Mother or Grandmother now, thanks to the poor unfortunate that the law is going to defend to best of it's ability.
      There seems to be a lot of sad critters using this tragic event to vent their spleen & further their own questionable causes, lets try to put some perspective on it and have a little respect for a life so tragically cut short, whatever the out come.
      May God grant Jill, and her family, the peace and closure they didn't experience in this life.

    At the end of the day Jill's family and friends want justice and answers as to why. Dont risk these this for them because you think its ok. The legal system has many holes and the defencs job is play them. Whe everyome is angry at this please dont play into that anger and risk justice

    Manson tried the same thing at his trial, didn't work then either.

    I agree with many on here and the law itself. This sort of thing can prejudice people, I myself am prejudiced based on what I have seen and read. E

    Regardless of that fact, these laws were made in a time before social media. Love it or loathe it, facebook and twitter aren't going to be shut down any time soon. There needs to be more discussion on how we hanf

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