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CJFE disappointed in outcome of publication bans case at Supreme Court

(CJFE/IFEX) - Toronto, June 10, 2010 - Canadian Journalists for Free Expression (CJFE) is disappointed in today's Supreme Court of Canada decision to uphold the principle of blanket publication bans in bail hearings.

While this outcome was not unexpected, the decision is a setback for freedom of expression. This decision means the reasons for a judge's decision whether or not to grant bail cannot be available for public scrutiny until the trial is over, often years later.

"The decision to release someone back into the community pending trial is often controversial and certainly always of direct interest to the public," said CJFE Board member Peter Jacobsen. "Public confidence in our justice system is certainly not enhanced by this delay and lack of transparency."

All of the remedies available to offset potential jury prejudice have been commented on with approval by our courts. It is unfortunate that the Supreme Court of Canada did not see fit to allow for the reasons for a judge's decision to be made public immediately subject to exception in special circumstances.

The one dissenting judge in the case, Justice Abella, noted that denying access to information about a judge's reasoning is "a profound interference with the open court principle."

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