November 25, 2015 By Regina Pratt
A budding State Counsel has cautioned court reporters as to their conduct in court and with court officials.
Allieu Vandi Koroma Esq. was speaking last Friday, 20 November at Santanno House in Freetown, during the second round of interaction dubbed ‘bridging the gap between lawyers, judges and journalists’.
He said Courts of law are open to the public and persons of good conduct, adding that frequent movements in and out while a court is sitting could distract officers.
The State Prosecutor cautioned journalists against proffering their opinion and commenting on cases which are still being heard in court as such could trigger contempt charges.
He said the practice of registrars giving out Judges’ Notes to reporters was illegal as there are procedures to acquiring court documents, such as going through the registry and paying a minimal amount to get the documents, acknowledging though that the process may be painstakingly slow.
He urged court reporters to write on thematic issues like bail and sentencing as part of their reportage.
President of Sierra Leone Association of Journalist, Kelvin Lewis, said lifting the ban on taking devices to court to record proceedings was a welcomed idea, adding that the breakthrough came about during a meeting with judges. He said though that devices could only be used when judgment is read in certain cases. He urged the need for clear and specific guidelines on the use of devices in court as there is no hard and fast rule as to how to use of them.
Private legal practitioner, Ansu B. Lansana Esq., enjoined court reporters not to dwell on negativity in their reportage as that could cause fear among members of the public who might decline to grant interviews.