This was a series of applications by the BCCLA to vary a sealing order and publication ban issued in this criminal case. The case involves a Surrey couple, John Stuart Nuttall and Amanda Korody, who are accused of plotting to bomb the Victoria legislature last year on Canada Day.
The BCCLA was involved in this matter because we believe that public has a right to know about the special vulnerabilities of these individuals, and alleged concerns about the police tactics used in this case in the lead-up to their arrest. The Supreme Court of Canada has repeatedly stated that any publication ban must only limit public access to the courts to the extent necessary to protect the fair trial rights of the accused and other valid concerns.
In July 2014, the BCCLA successfully varied the broadly worded publication ban, arguing that the ban must minimally impair the right of public to have access and information about the courts. Because of the BCCLA’s efforts, the media were permitted to report that the defense sought to bring an application for alleged abuse of process by the authorities.
In October 2014, the BCCLA brought a further application seeking to allow the public and media greater access to the evidence and information in the case. We argued that the blanket publication ban and sealing order should be removed, and that the BCCLA and the media should be able to access all of the exhibits at trial. The BCCLA advocated that the protocol similar to that set out in R. v. Huth, 2013 BCSC 2123 and R. v. Sipes, 2011 BCSC 918 ought to apply with respect to access by the public to exhibits and materials at trial.
Madame Justice Bruce agreed with the BCCLA and ordered that the BCCLA and accredited media be permitted access to a designated media room at the courthouse containing all the trial exhibits and materials, unless counsel files a formal objection at the time the exhibit is tendered, and and that objection is sustained by the court.
The protocol replaces the predominant practice whereby media are not advised of trial exhibits and learn of them by happenstance, and requires the media to apply on an exhibit-by-exhibit basis in order to obtain access to and publish those exhibits. In this predominant ad hoc method, it is often weeks between the tendering of an exhibit at a trial and the ability of the media to actually get access to the exhibit and report on the exhibit. The protocol aligns court procedure with the presumptions of open court and open access to court exhibits entered during trial.
The BCCLA is represented by David Crerar of Borden Ladner Gervais.
BC Supreme Court