R. v. Pickton


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June 8, 2005

Mr. Pickton is charged in the murder of 27 women in Vancouver whose remains were found on his pig farm. His trial was just getting underway, when he applied for what amounted to an in camera order applicable to pre-trial motions. It would have allowed the public to attend, but not discuss anything they had heard with anyone. His application was dismissed on the basis that the ban automatically in place pursuant to Section 648(1) is sufficient to protect Mr. Pickton's fair trial rights.

Mr. Justice Williams ordered that the publication ban applies to broadcasting on the internet. To avoid the Gomery Inquiry problem, when the media directed the public to American websites that were breaching the publication ban, he ordered a ban on publication

"of information that would tend to identify websites or other sources from which prohibited information about these proceedings can be accessed, including, but not limited to, the names and addresses of any such websites and sources
...To underscore the point, the publication ban will be posted to the door of the courtroom and the live feed room. In future publication ban applications, counsel seeking a publication ban have to give two days clear notice to the media who have expressed interest in receiving such a notice. If notice is not reasonably possible and if a ban is ordered, it will only be an interim order to expire on a fixed date unless continued following a hearing.
Mr. Pickton can renew his application if circumstances warrant."

He adopted the interpretations of s.648 set out in R. v. Regan and R. v. Malik. Information about the process, such as the fact that there has been an adjournment of a trial, or that now Mr. Pickton is applying for disclosure of Crown documents, would not breach the ban. Information that "would reasonably be expected to taint a jury's impression of the accused", would be in breach of the ban. In practice, this will ban most of the pre-trial matters.

R. v. Pickton (PDF)

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