I was in B.C. Supreme Court today for a pre-trial hearing in the Basi-Virk/BC Legislature Raid case. And because of a ban on publication imposed by presiding Justice Anne MacKenzie, I can't report on any -- repeat, any -- of today's proceedings - or any others that may be scheduled. Not now and not until a verdict has been reached in the trial that starts May 3.
The only possible bit of news I can report to you is that it appears Justice MacKenzie recognized the error in her original March 2 publication ban, which would have prevented media from reporting on the trial itself for its duration.
Justice MacKenzie's original publication ban -- instituted on her own order and not requested by either Crown or defence counsel -- read as follows:
"Pursuant to s. 648 of the Criminal Code and the inherent jurisdiction of the court, no information about these proceedings including evidence, submissions, rulings and Reasons for Judgment shall be published in any document or broadcast or transmitted in any way until the jury renders its verdict or until further order of the Court."
Note that there was no reference to "in the absence of the jury. " If that phrase were included, media could report on all matters the jury was present to hear -- in other words, the evidence presented, testimony of witnesses, etc.
However, it appears that on March 4 -- two days after the publication ban order was signed by Justice MacKenzie -- the ban was revised to include that phrase.
The Supreme Court of B.C. website publication ban section now reads as follows:
"Pursuant to s. 648 of the Criminal Code and the inherent jurisdiction of the court, there shall be no publication in any document or broadcast or transmission of any evidence, submissions, rulings or Reasons for Judgment given in these proceedings in the absence of the jury until the jury renders its verdict or until further order of the Court."
That indicates daily testimony in front of the jury will indeed be reportable.
Meanwhile -- I would love to tell you what was discussed in court, which lawyers representing which clients were attending, who else was present, and what was decided -- but I can't.
The reasons are rather clear based on the Criminal Code section Justice MacKenzie cites above. So, you will just have to wait until the trial ends - and hope there are no further restrictions on reporting during the trial itself.
Bill Tieleman is a columnist for 24 hours and The Tyee.