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COMM 2501 (12)

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Communication Studies
COMM 2501
Klaus Pohle

Class 10 & 11 Contempt of court - Protecting the administration of justice - “There cannot be anything of greater consequence than to keep the streams of justice pure and clear . . .” – Lord Hardwicke, Lord Chancellor of England, 1742 Cases: - United Nurses of Alberta v. The Attorney General of Alberta et al In the Supreme Court of Canada, (1992) 1 S.C.R. 901 - The Attorney General of Alberta and Interwest Publications In the Court of Queen’s Bench of Alberta (1990) Unreported - Re: Nicol In the Supreme Court of British Columbia, (1954) 3 D.L.R. 690 - R v. Kopyto In the Ontario Court of Appeal, (1988) 24 O.A.C. 81 - Marilyn Moysa and The Labour Relations Board and the Attorney General of Alberta, the Attorney General of Canada et al In the Supreme Court of Canada (1989) Unreported - St. Elizabeth Home Society v. The Corporation of the City of Hamilton In the Ontario Court of Appeal, 2008 ONCA 182 - People aren’t always certain when contempt of court will be used even when people know what it constitutes, it involves on the people who are part of and related to the judicial readings. - There are lawyers out there that say this is only valuable when someone is caught, media sometimes pushes the boundaries from flowing form the judicial reporting’s, because contempt of court is not always used. Journalists take a risk on publishing information such as this because there are a possibilities of prejudicial actions - Contempt law only exists in English law as far back as the 1700s, there was this notion that legal proceedings had to be conducted in a fair and unprejudiced matter. Accused and trialed on the evidence that was heard in the court not in the court of public opinion that was exemplified by the media. Where the issue of guilt or innocence isn’t so many dependants on what happens in the court room but what happens outside the court room which can’t be seen as a fair trial. - The law of contempt was grown up in England under common law - it was developed over the years in England to meet two objectives - 1) court orders be obeyed - 2) promote respect for the courts and the administrators of justice, because if people do not have respect for these proceedings then it will suffer because people think that such system could have reasoning’s for an unfair trial - The Ottawa citizen claimed that there needs to be a perception that people get judicial and fair trials for justice to be served, this pertains particular to media and media practionares when they cover trails there are number of things that need to be kept in mind, generally speaking when trials are covered the media are observers they report what goes on in the open court – they are not participants of the process – merely report you do not infuse it with your own comments and personal opinion. - Journalists must report accurately as the trial enfolds in the court room, limit yourself to what people say in court. - This pertains to when covering the court to remember the concept of an open court in libel law, what is heard in court is private matter and is to be protected. Open court is what is said in trial. - If you are convicted of contempt than you have a criminal record because it is a criminal offence, this is a curious offence because its ability to apply. - It’s the only offence that a court gives both the accuser the prosecutor and the judge and the jury and can sentence you to prison on the spot, a judge may cite you of contempt of court on the spot - In facie - some contempt’s take place in the court room (in the face of the court) if you failed to show up as a witness or didn’t answer a question than that is a contempt taken place in court. - Ex facie – some contempt’s that are taken place outside of the court room - These both apply to media practionares - Contempt law has three areas which it protects - This is to promote respect for the administrators of justice - 1) sub judice rule - Specifically protects fair, unprejudiced trial. This is generally an ex facie contempt because it deals with publication. - 2) scandalizing the court - Protects dignity, reputation of the court. Generally is an ex facie contempt, dignity of the justice system - 3) breaching court orders - Generally this is an in facie contempt when it deals with media practionares, when someone refuses to do something that is ordered by the court. Protects authority of court - The courts are to be neutral and unbiased; they are to make the decision on evidence – nothing to do with a person’s sexual orientation, age or race. The evidence means everything. That is why these contempt of court protections are important. - contempt of court can be applied at anytime - scandalizing the court - Journalists need to be careful what they say in court and what they report on court trials, must be aware of the language that they use in any sort of criticism. Allegations of bias and prejudice will most likely get you in a lot of trouble. Discussions of law and decisions made in the court are not a problem but not ulterior motives such as calling a judge a “murder” for sentencing people to death or life in prison. - Scandalizing the court – definition: Any act that implies that an accused can’t get a fair trial because of prejudice, bias, dishonesty, corruption etc on part of judge and/or justice system. - Requires proof of intent to subvert system of justice (mens rea) - sub judice rule – definition: any act that interferes with court’s determination of guilt/innocence (fair trial) - strict liability - proof of actual prejudice not necessary - this is generally an ex facie attempt because the story would have to do with the media, the court is only affected indirectly - Breaches (publications that may interfere with a fair trial): - There are publication bans on certain part of evidence - Contempt of court is a common law criminal defence which can be applied to statutory provision - If publish something from a pre-trial or prejudicial hearing it may result in a contempt of court - When the issue is on the presumption of innocence in an open and fair trial – charter of freedom of rights - 1. Confessions/admissions of guilt before they become evidence at trial – link this to preliminary hearing but there is a publication ban on it, that ban stays with that evidence until it becomes evidence in the trial if it doesn’t become evidence in the trial itself it cannot become evidence, what the court will do is enter into a wordier which is a trial within a trial in the means by which to protect the jury of bias thoughts on the evidence, if the judge says that the evidence may not be used in the trial and be a decision maker for the jury people then it may not be published until after the trial and case is over, even if there is a confession in preliminary it may not be published until after it has become evidence - 2. Previous convictions/evidence of bad character not in evidence at trial – there is the assumption that if you have a past history of past convictions that you must have d
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