Australia

Brittany Higgins fled Canberra in the midst of Bruce Lehrmann’s rape trial at Port Macquarie.

Journalists were not allowed to report on anything the jury did not hear until the trial was over. Here’s what we couldn’t report at the time.

BRITTANY SPEECH FOR REPORTERS

During the broadcast, much of Brittany Higgins’ speech to the media on the day the jury was dismissed could not be republished because it could harm a future trial.

Indeed, Mr. Lehrmann’s lawyer referred the speech to the Federal Police because it was fraught with potentially disparaging remarks about the way she believed she had been treated by law enforcement.

“I chose to speak. To speak out against rape, speak out against injustice, speak out and share my experiences with others. I told the truth, no matter how uncomfortable or unflattering, to the court,” she told hordes of TV cameras.

“Today’s outcome does not change that truth. When I spoke out, I never fully understood how asymmetrical the criminal justice system is, but now I do.’

YOUNGEST PARLIAMENT LED

State Liberal member for Bonney, Samuel O’Connor, 27, gave testimony on day 10 of the trial via an audiovisual link from the Gold Coast.

At the end of his testimony, Judge McCallum said, “Mr. O’Connor, I must ask, are you the youngest Member of Parliament?”

He smiled and said, ‘Oh. There are now two younger than me.’

He was then referred to as “Samuel O’Connor, apparently not the youngest member of parliament” by members of the defence, the prosecution, and Judge McCallum throughout the remainder of the court proceedings.

LINDA REYNOLDS IN RWANDA

Former Defense Secretary Linda Reynolds proved difficult to reach because she was at a conference in Rwanda and the time difference was a factor.

The Chief Justice at one point suggested that the court proceedings should begin earlier one morning, but to no avail. Finally Judge McCallum asked, “Is she subpoenaed?”

Prosecutor Shane Drumgold said she did, which meant she had to appear when called.

The prosecution eventually received a note from the senator’s aide that read, “Linda Reynolds is available today from 3 p.m..”

“Yes, that’s very helpful,” Judge McCallum replied.

TACOS AND MARGS

There were talks of tacos and margaritas when attorney Steven Whybrow spoke of a text exchange between Ms Higgins and her boyfriend Ben Dilloway the day after the alleged assault.

The defense attorney sought to determine whether the ex-employee had filed any complaints about her alleged rape in the days immediately after March 23, 2019.

But Judge McCallum said Mrs. Higgins could talk about tacos and margaritas as much as she wanted and that didn’t necessarily mean she wasn’t assaulted the night before.

THE TRANSCRIPT OF MR LEHRMANN

During the final week of the trial, Judge McCallum sternly told the court that two online news outlets had published the transcript of Bruce Lehrmann’s interview with the Supreme Commander.

She asked those journalists to respond to her accordingly, but admitted that the transcript had been presented as evidence. Reporters were allowed to publish expositions, not transcripts.

JUSTICE ‘X-FACTOR’ LUCY MCCALLUM

The chief justice presiding over the case occasionally lends her musical talent to in-fight competition, Law Rocks – where law firms turn into bands and battle it out on stage to raise money for a good cause.

She also climbs rocks, runs marathons, rides mountain bikes and her husband was the lead guitarist for Australian punk rock band Lime Spiders.

Chief Justice McCallum addressed all witnesses and jurors very warmly, thanking them sincerely for their time and allowing them moments of reprieve when emotions were running high.

Despite the serious nature of the matter, she managed to maintain an appropriate level of humor throughout – often with laughter in the public gallery.

Moments after the jurors were dismissed for the weekend after their first days of deliberations, she told the court she had researched the history of juries – which dates back to around the 13th century.

Judge McCallum said it was common practice at the time to deny jurors light, food and water until they made a decision. If they still couldn’t agree, they were shuttled around the city until they had a verdict.

“We’re not going to do that with this jury,” she said with a smile. “Have a nice weekend everyone.”

When the jury told her they couldn’t reach a verdict in the final week of deliberations, she urged them to go back and reconsider.

As they left the courtroom, she clearly felt the pressure they were under and said, “You just want to bake them some cookies or something?”

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Jacky

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