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Publicity of Trials in General Courts

NCJ Number
Rebecca Kadoch
Date Published
179 pages
This study examined the implementation and effects of a new law (2007) in Finland intended to increase the transparency of criminal court proceedings and documents.
The study found that public information on trials in Finland is most often restricted in order to protect the privacy of crime victims. This victim privacy issue has been prevalent in sex-offense cases, as district courts have had closed hearings in just over 70 percent of cases that have involved sex offenses; the percentage has been even higher for appellate courts. Overall, the study concluded that restrictions on trial publicity and information made available to the public is justifiable in most cases. The courts, however, have erred in not providing to the public specific reasons for restricting the information made public in particular cases. In addition, the courts apparently selectively apply the transparency law in deciding which elements of court case processing will be made public; e.g., allowing public information on hearings while restricting the public information on documents that are vital in court decisions. This is concerning, because the law intended to eliminate courts' selective transparency for elements of court proceedings. The study consisted of an examination of 303 cases in district courts and 138 cases in appellate courts. Eighty-six percent were criminal cases, and the others were civil. Extensive tables and figures and 259 references


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