Police Avoid Subpoena
The Court recently considered an objection by the Police, to a subpoena they had received, on a number of grounds, including that the production of the documents was not in the ‘public interest’.
The matter involved parenting arrangements. The mother argued that the father should not have any time with the child on the basis that he was intimidating and controlling and feared that he would subject the child to emotional abuse. The mother subpoenaed documents from the Police relating to a workplace incident involving the father, who was himself a police officer.
The first consideration was whether the documents would serve a “legitimate forensic purpose” to the mother’s case. The Court found that some of the documents (not all) would potentially assist the mother’s case and that they therefore did have a legitimate forensic purpose.
The Court then considered whether these documents should be subject to the ‘Public Interest Immunity*’ and should not be produced. The Judge found that the immunity did apply in this case and found that disclosure of the documents would:
- Be prejudicial to the ability of the Police to receive and investigate complaints against Police members;
- Breach confidentiality of the complainants;
- Undermine internal disciplinary proceedings;
- Prevent future complainants from disclosing complaints for fear they would be disclosed; and
- Jeopardise public confidence in the investigation process.
In coming to its decision, the Court weighed up the harm that may result if the documents were disclosed against the benefit that would be gained from disclosure of the documents.
* Public Interest Immunity – A principle by which the Government can request that sensitive documents are not used as evidence in a trial, on the grounds that to do so would be against the public or national interest.
Please contact us if you have any queries relating to Parenting Arrangements to discuss your situation with one of our Family Law Specialists.