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Australian #MeToo trial that includes Brittany Higgins ends after jury misconduct : World


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The high-profile trial of a former Australian parliamentary staffer accused of raping his colleague ended abruptly on Thursday (native time) — and with no verdict — after the decide mentioned a juror consulted exterior analysis towards her directions.

The BBC reported that courtroom officers in Canberra, Australia’s capital metropolis, found an instructional research left behind by a member of the jury throughout a “routine tidying” of the jury room.

Chief Justice Lucy MacCallum, who repeatedly warned jurors not to concentrate to media stories and public discourse on the trial, mentioned the opportunity of undue affect was “not a threat I can take.” She dismissed the jury after 5 days of deliberation and 12 days of listening to proof.

A retrial date has been tentatively scheduled for February.

Higgins says her life has been “open for the world to see”

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Defendant Bruce Lehrmann has persistently denied allegations that he raped Brittany Higgins on a minister’s couch after an evening out consuming in 2019.

Higgins went public with the allegations in 2021, sparking a wave of accusations, investigations and protests, amounting to what’s been labeled Australia’s #MeToo motion.

The trial has given the Australian public the uncommon alternative to see inside a sexual assault trial, an establishment sometimes shrouded in secrecy to guard identities.

Media protection on the case detailed days of witness testimony, together with two senators who denied there was any political motivation to initially preserve Higgin’s accusations from the general public.

Higgins sat for a number of days of cross-examination, wherein protection legal professionals recommended she did not totally keep in mind the small print of what occurred.

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Talking tearfully exterior the courtroom, Higgins described the legal justice system as “asymmetrical.”

“My life has been publicly scrutinized, open for the world to see,” she mentioned. “He was afforded the choice of staying silent in courtroom, head down in a pocket book, fully indifferent. He by no means confronted one query in courtroom.”

Lehrmann’s authorized group mentioned in a press release that they had introduced Higgins’ remarks to the eye of the Australian Federal Police as a possible contempt of courtroom violation.

Court docket challenges are the following section of Australia’s #MeToo motion

Michelle Arrow, who college students politics, gender and historical past at Macquarie College mentioned the Higgins case was being watched as the primary main legal trial because the #MeToo motion ignited within the nation.

A handful of #MeToo allegations made publicly in 2018 have been litigated within the civil courtroom system by way of defamation lawsuits, which put a steep burden of proof on the individual making the accusations of misconduct. One such allegation led to a record-setting $2 million reward for the actor Geoffrey Rush.

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“The [defamation laws] have develop into an instrument for individuals who have the time and means to pursue authorized proceedings,” Arrow informed World earlier this month.

“With the Higgins trial, it will be fascinating to see if the legal legislation could be a means for some ladies to realize justice.”

If the retrial strikes forward in February, it is going to mark two years since Higgins first went public together with her allegations.


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