Tori Stafford publication ban partially lifted

An all-encompassing publication ban on the Tori Stafford murder case has been partially lifted to allow media outlets to report on a guilty plea by one of the accused.

Terri-Lynne McClintic, one of two accused of killing eight-year-old Tori, pleaded quilty to first-degree murder and was sentenced to life in prison on April 30.

The Vancouver Sun reports:

“But in a rare move, the judge told reporters in the courtroom they couldn’t report any of those developments — not even that a hearing had taken place — until further notice.

“The decision sparked angry newspaper editorials and speculation on some social media sites that a plea deal was being worked out with McClintic.”

Read the CBC Online and Globe and Mail reports on today’s Supreme Court of Canada ruling that partially lifted the ban.

Dean Jobb wrote about the ban earlier this year for J-Source:

“Justice Dougald McDermid of Ontario’s Superior Court of Justice prohibited the media from reporting what happened when Terri-Lynne McClintic, one of two people accused of the eight-year-old’s 2009 abduction and murder, was scheduled to appear in court in Woodstock.  The Globe and Mail ran a front-page editorial on May 1 calling the ban “absurd” and “a danger to Canadians.” 

“The Toronto Star said it will challenge the scope of the temporary ban and warned in an editorial that “rumour and innuendo will replace solid reporting” if it stands. Star columnist Rosie DiManno says the ban “cheats Canadians” who have a right to follow the high-profile case, and underlined her point in another column in which the banned information was blacked out. Meanwhile, Ontario’s NDP justice critic and media law experts contend the ban goes too far and flies in the face of the Charter’s guarantee of press freedom.”

A story by The Toronto Star‘s Heather Mallick — the first she’s written since the ban was lifted — hints that there are a lot of terrible details still to be revealed. Dirk Derstine, the lawyer for the other accused, McClintic’s ex Mike Rafferty, wants the partial ban to remain in order to provide him with a fair trial.

Media lawyer Iain MacKinnon, who reprsents several news organizations including Postmedia, wants the entire ban to be lifted, arguing that open courts are necessary”to maintain confidence in the integrity of courts and accountability by them,” The Vancouver Sun reports. He added that the media has a fundamental role to report on court cases to people who couldn’t otherwise attend in person.