Rulings reject guilty plea ban, sealing order
An Ontario judge has found no grounds for preventing the media from reporting that one of three people accused of murder has pleaded guilty, even though the co-accused will stand trial soon. And another judge of the province’s Superior Court has refused to seal documents filed in a civil case despite a claim they reveal trade secrets.
In what the Toronto Star calls a “landmark” ruling, the judge said a publication ban “a drastic remedy” and must be shown to be “absolutely necessary.” Justice Ian Nordheimer said courts should not assume that jurors will be influenced by what they hear or read before a trial, and those accused of offences are “entitled to an impartial jury, not an uninformed jury.” He also noted that many online and social media tools for disseminating information are beyond the control of the courts, rendering bans ineffective.
On the same day, Oct. 13, Justice Michael Quigley rejected a bid by a Toronto diet doctor to seal testimony in a civil trial that he claimed would reveal his weight-loss secrets. The judge ruled there was “no proprietary element” to the information that would justify the ban. Read the Toronto Star report.