Comment Guidelines: Court Stories

With court stories there are a host of comments that are not permitted due to legal reasons, and in most cases these are not specific Bernews rules, they are the ‘laws of the land’. Due to the legal considerations, we will always err on the side of safety as far as comments, and if we are in doubt, we will not permit it.

Comments that are not permitted include, but are not limited to:

  • Referencing a past bad act. You will notice the media doesn’t include mention of past bad acts while the case is ongoing, and this is a policy that must be extended to comments. If a defendant is charged with XYX crime and you know that last month they were charged with another crime, this cannot be mentioned until the case has been completed.
  • Assuming guilt before someone is convicted. If the case is still ongoing, we can’t permit comments saying someone is guilty. So instead of saying someone did rob a store, the comment has to be phrased in a way that reflects the person has been charged, not convicted.
  • Trying to post names in sexual assault cases. By law we are not allowed to name defendants in a sexual assault case prior to conviction, and we are not legally allowed to name victims of sexual assault at any time. Also, apart from the law, we personally do not wish to name sexual assault victims out of respect for their privacy, and as such have a zero tolerance policy. If you attempt to name a sexual assault victim, we will permanently ban you from commenting and reserve to the right to ban your computer from accessing Bernews via an IP block. As far as naming defendants in sexual assaults, the moment we are legally allowed to – we will, and comments including their names are welcome.
  • Attempting to name victims or witnesses whose names have been excluded from our article. At times we do not name people who we legally are able to in the interests of their privacy and/or safety. If we have excluded the name of a victim or witness, we will not permit it in the comments.
  • Intricate details of the crime. Due to legal considerations we can’t permit in depth comments about the crime while the case is ongoing. If you have knowledge about the crime, please contact the Police on 295-0011, or call the confidential Crimestoppers hotline at 800-8477.
  • Blaming us for the crime. This has nothing to do with legal considerations, it’s a purely Bernews policy. No pun intended, but “shooting the messenger” is something that does occur sometimes, and we will not tolerate being blamed for sexual attacks, murders, shootings and other crimes committed by other people. It’s beyond offensive to be blamed for these crimes, and we will delete any comment assigning blame to us without qualms.
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