Bail hearing ban reinstated

Alberta’s Court of Appeal has overturned a ruling that would have ended the practice of banning publication of evidence heard at bail hearings at the request of a defendant. A lower court said the mandatory ban, which applies even when there will be no jury trial, violated the Charter’s guarantee of press freedom and judges should decide whether a ban is needed to ensure a fair trial. While the appeal court agreed s. 517 of the Criminal Code infringes on press freedom, it concluded the restriction is justified to prevent the publication of information that could a prejudice a defendant’s case. The CBC and the Edmonton Sun have applied for leave to appeal the decision to the Supreme Court of Canada.

Read the Court of Appeal’s September 3, 2008 ruling.