On Day 3 of the re:publica TEN, in his talk “Strafrecht, Wahrheit und Kommunikation” (Criminal Justice, Truth and Communication) federal judge, Thomas Fischer, accused judicial reporters of placing emphasis on hysteria and scandal.
Federal judge Thomas Fischer is known foremost for his column “Fischer im Recht” of the ZEIT newspaper. At the re:publica TEN, he harshly criticised current reporting on court procedures. In his opinion, such reporting lies in the hands of amateurs who don’t know the rules even after years of operating in the field. In other areas of society this would not be acceptable. Where legal issues are concerned, however, nobody complains about faulty information. As an example, revision and appeal are constantly being mistaken. Through his marked criticism, Fischer expressed his dissatisfaction of constant demands for closing loopholes in the criminal justice system. “Loopholes are no regrettable exceptions but welcome rules”, says Fischer. “A criminal justice system without loopholes would be a law that prosecutes everything.” Loopholes that do not even exist are often invented.
In the case of the events that occurred in Cologne in the night of New Year’s Eve, Fischer didn’t read about a single action that wasn’t triable under existing criminal law. If journalists fail to understand that and agree in exact wording with political demands then this is “a disgraceful surrender against the background of one’s own failure.” Instead of understanding complex contexts and presenting them, “hysteria and scandal” are put forward.
Photo credit: re:publica/Jan Zappner (CC BY 2.0)