The trial of Bruce Lehrman was aborted this morning after it came to light that a juror had brought into the jury room research material from external sources (see corresponding Blog).
This blog puts the comments made by the defence and the comments made by Brittany Higgins outside court into a legal framework. Outside court, Bruce Lehrman’s defence lawyer Steven Whybrow said:
“Everyone is disappointed at what happened but it would be inappropriate and irresponsible to say anything at this stage.”
Mr Whybrow is entirely correct. It is not appropriate for the defence to say anything about the trial or the accused in case it impacts on a retrial.
Outside court Brittany Higgins said:
“the criminal justice system was “asymmetrical” and made her feel as if she was the person on trial.”
- Since the 16 th Century Lady Justice symbolises the criminal justice system. She is blind folded with the scales of Justice in one hand and sword in the other. The depiction is one of impartiality and denotes symmetry between the parties. The presiding judicial officer, in this case ACT Supreme Court Chief Justice Lucy McCallum, is charged with the responsibility to ensure that the trial progressed without bias.
“I was required to tell the truth under oath for over a week in the witness stand.”
- Through the prosecution Brittany Higgins must present her case to the jury in order to persuade the jury that she is telling the truth
“I was cross-examined at length.’
- The Brittany Higgins’ evidence was properly tested by the defence in cross examination in order to persuade the jury that Brittany Higgins was not telling the truth.
“He [Lehrmann] was afforded the choice of staying silent in court, head down in a notebook, completely detached.”
- Bruce Lehrman is presumed innocent and except in only one or two situations it is entirely appropriate for him to exercise his right to silence and not give evidence.
“He never faced one question in court about his story and the criminal charges.”
- As above an accused has the right to silence.
“I was required to surrender my telephones, my passwords, messages, photos and my data to him.”
- Brittany Higgins; devices may have held evidence of importance to the defence case. If it were not so, the prosecution would have opposed the material being led in evidence. Seemingly this was not in this case.
“He was not required to produce his telephone, his pass words, messages, photos or his data.”
- It would seem that the prosecution did not seek Bruce Lehrman’s devices or following their examination of the devices no incriminating evidence was found.
Brittany Higgins comments out-of-court have now been referred to the police by Bruce Lehrman’s defence team.