Regular readers here likely visit BC Mary’s The Legislature Raids, the one site that provides or links to most every worthwhile thing written about the corrupt sale of BC Rail. Robin Mathews, retired SFU professor has followed the Basi/Virk/Basi trial and much of his reporting is available at TLR.
Jill Leacock, listed in the B.C. Government Directory as a Law officer, is apparently unhappy about some things written about the Supreme Court trial by Mathews. The good Professor had questioned broad application of a ban that says “no information regarding any portion of the trial at which the jury is not present shall be published. . . ” Ms. Leacock felt a duty to warn Mathews that a person who spreads information wrongly “is in breach of the ban, and guilty of an offence punishable on summary conviction. (her emphasis)
This effort of publication chill provoked a healthy discussion in comments at The Legislature Raids Ms. Jill Leacock, Law Officer, reproves Robin Mathews. It occurred to me that BC government employees involved in the administration of justice have many issues that cause anxiety but least among those should be political discomfort caused by online journalists. I find it strange that Ms. Leacock is preoccupied with a rule challenge that has NOT occurred but apparently oblivious to another court rule broken every day with impunity. Weapons, cameras and recording devices are prohibited but many spectators carry smart phones, every one capable of being a camera and a recording device. Accordingly, I left the following comment at TLR:
This is excellent. It demonstrates, in public, the principles that matter to administrators of justice in BC. This will be evidence of official preoccupations for historians who will write about this situation for posterity.
- Connections between prosecutor and Liberal insiders? No problem.
- Premier’s number one guy swears an oath to tell the truth but is persistently unresponsive, devoid of memory unless it is to vindicate colleagues? No problem.
- Documents that should have been retained by government but were destroyed? No problem.
- Family connections between a senior RCMP investigator and a top Liberal insider? No problem?
- Irregular posting of notices and public schedules by administrators? No problem.
- Years of delay in getting to trial. Three weeks of court scheduled and only a few hours of testimony heard? Then a two month summer break? No problem.
- An official journalist accreditation committee dominated by Canwest blocks potential competition from equal access? No problem.
But, report ANYTHING that happened in the courtroom in the absence of the jury and you are a criminal. Even if you report that people were illegally carrying and using smartphones that are also cameras and recording devices, you are a criminal.
Other readers added their own contributions to the list:
- what appeared to be attempted jury tampering with the addition of the judges admonition to not take it seriously – would she have said that to the jury if it had been someone from the defense that approached jurors across town.
- Then there is the issue of [one person associated with a prosecutor] regularly positioning oneself behind the defense table.
- [Authorities] refuse to lay charges for the string of very serious crimes that we all know has taken place.
- why hasn’t this court laid an injunction on the BC Rail/CN contract – because illegally-obtained contracts are inherently null and void?
- Why hasn’t [the court] ordered an investigation of someone in the Premier’s Office deleting email evidence fully known to be needed for this case?
- Why does Bill Berardino still hold the Special Prosecutor position, even though his appointment was clearly not only improper but also highly illegal by law.
- Why haven’t there been investigation or charges of illegal lobbying activities, whether by Patrick Kinsella or by the Pilothouse boys?
- Why were the warrants in this case issued improperly?
- who thinks that massive campaign donations and a subsequent insider deal on one of the (formerly) largest public assets are not a problem.
- But “the law” isn’t interested in the more important laws that were broken here, but instead trying to shaft only a few, selectively chosen, political scapegoats.
- given Bobby Virk’s allegation about being offered benefits to hush up – there’s another broken law that’s going uninvestigated, while the weight of the court is being threatened against those who talk about it, or about the improper connection between the Liberal Party brass and the RCMP in charge of conducting this case?
Judges can impose sanctions on people who are disrespectful of the courts. Some even believe that tradition puts them beyond criticism but, in reality, the courts can only function effectively if they earn and deserve the respect of citizens. That means they cannot sit in ivory towers forever disconnected from the citizens for whom a judicial system exists. They cannot enforce laws against some or act for the convenience of the powerful. Well, they can but they will be held in contempt of public