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June 26, 2006
Media To Challenge Canadian Publication Ban

The Canadian courts have imposed another publication ban on the trial of the 17 Muslims arrested for conspiring to conduct terror attacks in Toronto. Two American and two Canadian media outlets have filed challenges to this order, hoping to open the trial to the press and the Canadian public:

Four media organizations asked a judge on Monday to hear arguments on overturning a media blackout in the cases of the suspects charged with plotting to bomb buildings in southern Ontario.

The Associated Press, the New York Times, the Toronto Star and the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation are challenging a publication ban a judge has imposed on courtroom proceedings for the 17 suspects arrested in the alleged plot. ...

Justice of the piece Keith Currie banned the media from reporting details of courtroom proceedings as the request of prosecutors on June 12. A notice of application to quash Currie's decision was filed last week and media lawyers met Regional Senior Judge Bruce Durno in an effort to set a hearing on the challenge.

"One justice of the peace has imposed a sweeping publication ban on all these hearings, and these hearings were the first opportunity for Canadians to learn more about the nature of the charges against these individuals and to assess the merits of the case against them," said Ryder Gilliland, a lawyer for the media. ...

Canada's Criminal Code allows judges to institute bans against publishing details from court hearings in an effort to protect the suspect's right to a fair trial.

Bans for bail hearings are often granted.

Of course, I have had a little experience with these publication bans. In the case of the Gomery hearings, however, the situation was somewhat different. That ban involved a public inquiry into corruption and malfeasance by elected officials and government programs. Gomery's squelching of the press did not prevent the attendees from learning firsthand, most of whom were well-connected to the political process as well as some of the media on whom the ban applied.

This ban involves a case with higher stakes, but at a level with lower likelihood of airing anything terribly substantive. Since this involves an arraignment, the Crown will likely present enough evidence to convince the judge to hold the suspects without bail, but not enough to really tip their hands. In any event, anything presented at the bail hearing will also get presented at trial later, so the public will get their chance to hear it, eventually.

Still, the judge should seriously consider waiving the ban. This case, as the AP report notes, has had a tremendous impact on the cosmopolitan Canadians, who have been shocked at the jihadis that grew out of their tolerant society, The people have their rights as well, and unless the judge plans to ask questions about covert intelligence methods, then he should allow the media to report on the danger they presented Canada.

Of course, if they don't, perhaps I may find another source ...

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Posted by Ed Morrissey at June 26, 2006 8:33 PM

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Tracked on June 27, 2006 6:51 AM


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