Brittany Higgins’ sexual assault trial was dropped following jury misconduct

The trial of a man charged with sexually assaulting ex-Liberal staffer Brittany Higgins was stopped without a verdict due to juror misconduct.

Chief Justice Lucy McCallum wrote to her decision At least one juror had access to research materials other than those provided to the jury during the trial.

During routine cleaning of the jury room, one of the officers accidentally knocks one juror’s file on the floor.

When the officer picked it up and put it back on, he realized that the title of the academic paper suggested a possible sexual assault, which was later confirmed.

“It is impossible and unhelpful to speculate on how this information was used in the jury room,” McCallum said. “[However]At the very least, the fact that the paper was discovered by a jury and brought to the jury room indicates that it may have influenced that jury’s contribution to its deliberations. ”

“The unfairness to both parties is clear.”

In his opening remarks to the jurors during the trial, McCallum gave specific instructions that any further investigation or investigation personally was “absolutely prohibited.”

“We have to rely solely on the evidence we hear in this court,” she told jurors in her first instruction.

McCallum also reminded jurors after each day of the trial to refrain from searching online for keywords such as Brittany Higgins, despite heavy media coverage of the trial.

In a footnote, the presiding judge wrote that after the juror’s dismissal, he was informed by officers that “the same juror was also in possession of two additional academic papers on sexual assault.”

Active Media Involvement in Rape Trials

The case is scheduled for trial in February 2023, which means it is still an ongoing lawsuit.

However, following the decision, Higgins chose to speak to the media outside the ACT Supreme Court, which was broadcast live on Australian television.

Lawyers for Bruce Lehrman, who was charged with raping Higgins, have told the court and federal police that her public comments could amount to contempt of court.

“I urge all media to exercise restraint in reporting this matter, especially in reprinting plaintiffs’ statements,” Lehmann’s attorney Steve Whybrow said in a statement.

Previous extreme media attention and involvement in the case delayed the trial, McCollum said after TV host Lisa Wilkinson delivered a speech “openly referring to and praising plaintiffs in the current trial.” said in the moon.

“The public is given to believe that guilt is established. There is,” he added, but the “most important principle” is that the trial must be fair.

Epoch Times photo
Brittany Higgins (left) and Lisa Wilkinson attend Marie Claire International Women’s Day Breakfast on March 8, 2022 in Sydney, Australia. (Lisa Marie Williams/Getty Images)

Wilkinson had been named Rosie for reporting Higgins’ allegations, and had been warned by prosecutor Shane Drumgold that further public commentary on the issue could lead to a delay in the trial. asked the court.

However, upon accepting the award at Logies on June 19, the TV host mentioned Higgins and thanked her for sharing her story.

‘No room’ for media, jury verdict

Joseph Fernandez, Adjunct Associate Professor of Media, Creative Arts and Social Inquiries at Curtin University, previously told The Epoch Times: nothing. ”

He said the media functioned only to inform people of what was going on in court, and that “fierce or distorted propaganda” could influence jurors and “predict a person’s guilt or innocence.” said that there is

Jason Bosland, Director of the Media and Communications Law Center at Melbourne Law School, also told the Epoch Times:

Nina Nguyen contributed to this report.

Rebecca Chu


Rebecca Zhu is based in Sydney. She focuses on the national politics of Australia and New Zealand. Any tips? Please contact her at [email protected]