Thursday, April 02, 2009


It can't be easy for Oppal to hide behind 'sub judice' says Gary Mason

Hi Gary,

Between Vaughn Palmer [March 31/09] and your column today, the matter of 'sub judice' is now clearer. Thanks especially for providing legal opinions from Alan Young, Clayton Ruby, Frank Addario, all saying the term has been abused.

But the fact remains: the 'sub judice' term, has been used very effectively in BC as a political defence weapon. Knowingly used by a respected former judge to thwart the public interest. It will undoubtedly continue to be used by every level of government. But ... as you demonstrate ... it is wrong. Was wrong. Will continue to be wrong. And we all knew it.

Wasn't it always apparent to you that it was a ploy serving a very large political purpose in the BC Rail Case?

Might've been sheer coincidence, of course, but just as the Oppal team lost all credibility for mistakenly using 'sub judice' protection, they moved swiftly to slam the doors on the current session of the BC Legislature. Nothing illegal about that, either.

I don't much like it, that during this financial crisis people are saying that Big Media deserves to die. I think that's because Big Media won't speak the truth, no matter how obvious: and won't say that by subverting the very law he knows so well, a former BC judge may be showing us how corruption works ... and it always works against the public interest. You know doggone well that "Mr Campbell" won't "begin answering questions" ...

If only you'd take the next step and say so (or at least, stop fooling around with the truth this way) ... most people would trust Big Media again. I'd welcome that just as much as you would.



Quoted from Gary Mason's article
The Globe and Mail - April 2, 2009

... "The sub judice rule made sense at a time in which trials were almost exclusively trials by jury and there was a feeling that comments made outside a trial might unduly influence jury members," said Alan Young, a professor at Osgoode Hall Law School in Toronto and a leading academic authority on the law in Canada.

"But now, 98 per cent of criminal cases are heard without a jury. The sub judice rule is a bit more of a historical relic than a political rule today.

"Politicians hide behind the sub judice rule," Mr. Young said in an interview. "That's why it won't be changed because it's a good sanctuary for the political actor. The reality is [sub judice] is not as significant as it used to be."

Clayton Ruby, one of Canada's top criminal lawyers, agrees.

"When a trial is under way, fair comment is fine, expressing an opinion is fine, talking about the facts is fine," Mr. Ruby said from his Toronto law office. "You just can't act in a way that prejudices the public against Smith the litigant or Smith the defendant. So properly understood, it leaves full scope for freedom of expression.

"But politicians use it to avoid making any comment about a subject that is embarrassing and that is not the [sub judice] doctrine. That is just an abuse, but a convenient abuse.

"They're cheating and they're doing it as politicians often do: to prevent the public from knowing what really went on. And there's no reason for that to be accepted as valid. It's not valid."

Frank Addario, another of the country's top lawyers, said broad bans that shelter all enquiry about pending cases have fallen away in modern times. Sub judice, he said, is not intended to prevent accountability by political authorities.

"I think it's extremely hard to influence a judge with statements outside a courtroom, and I think most judges would be insulted by the suggestion," Mr. Addario said.

"I think, overall, sub judice tends to be over-claimed, particularly by political authorities. I think we have a fairly high level of confidence in our judiciary in Canada that intellectual rigour will be applied to admissible evidence."

Thank you, Gary. - BC Mary,


Liz Bennett (SCBC) has problems with the inculpatory/exculpatory dichotomy. Too bad, given that the early intervention of Associate Justice, Pat Dohm, signalled that answer-in-defence would be derogated by this reactionary government and its robed stooges.

The NDP's lack of effective criticism of Oppal, resulted in the AG's shift to a Delta seat. The Libs expect to take both his old and new ridings. That shift was a major insult to Jame's leadership. Her answer? Echo the Lib calls for more useless anti-gang cops.

When the 2004 anti-gang task force ended in fiasco, the Libs set up the Orwellian, Violence Suppression Team, in Nov. 2007. See how a judge tossed their faking of a lane change as an excuse to conduct an unlawful stop and search. How the hell would you feel if cops did that to you? People need, at long last, to speak out against usurpation of the rule of law, by worthless police services. See the junk that you get for your tax dollars:

James-Kwan-Farnsworth say: pay for more junk.
One heckuva letter to Mr. Mason Mary.

Hope he replies.

(and I'm sure you'll let us know if he does).


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