Criticism of the chief judge at a district court for including photographs of the defendant in a criminal judgment and photographs of the injured party in another judgment

The Parliamentary Ombudsman has examined the wording of two criminal judgments. In one of the judgments, the district court included a close-up photo of the defendant. In the second judgment, the district court has taken photographs of the injured party and her home. Both judgments also include a variety of other pictures, such as alleged crime instruments and bloodstains. The Parliamentary Ombudsman notes that photographs of a person included in a criminal judgment become immediately available to anyone who examines the judgment and means that the court is helping to distribute the photographs. According to the Parliamentary Ombudsman, a court must not assist in the distribution of images that may jeopardise the individual’s right to privacy and protection of their private life. She is highly critical of the inclusion of the photographs of the defendant and the injured party, as well as the photographs of the injured party’s home, in the judgments under review and is of the opinion that the district court should have considered more carefully whether it was justifiable to do so in view of their privacy. The chief judge of the district court was responsible for drafting the judgments and is criticised.

In the decision, the Parliamentary Ombudsman discusses the considerations that a judge should make before including photographs and other illustrations in a criminal judgment.

Date of decision: 2023-06-29