Copyright (c) 1995 by the Southwestern University School of Law
Southwestern Journal of Law and Trade in the Americas
COMMENT: FAIR TRIAL VS. FREE SPEECH: CANADIAN PUBLICATION BANS VERSUS THE UNITED
2 Sw. J.L. & Trade Am. 203
Tammy Joe Evans
In controversial cases, Canadian courts have the authorities to issue publication bans as a means of ensuring a fair trial for the accused. 1 A publication ban prohibits the media, 2 both Canadian and foreign, from reporting on any proceedings until after the rendering of a verdict. 3 While such a ban would violate the United States Constitution if imposed in the United States, 4 the Supreme Court of Canada has held repeatedly that such prior restraints do not violate the freedoms of press, speech, or expression under the Canadian Constitution. 5 Furthermore, Canadian courts may impose sanctions for violations of publication bans. 6
Unlike the Canadian media, which often must conform to court-imposed restrictions when reporting on controversial cases, the United States media enjoy substantial freedom to publicize high profile cases. 7 Although courts in the United States have on occasion restricted cameras from the courtroom, they have never prevented the media from reporting pretrial proceedings.
These contrasting approaches clashed in the notorious 1993 trial of Karla Teale, who was charged with two counts of manslaughter for the brutal sexual assault and killing of two teenage girls. 8 Although the trial took place in Canada, the United States media wanted to publicize the sensational story. 9 To protect Teale's right to a fair trial, the court issued a publication ban that excluded all media from the courtroom and prohibited pretrial publicity. 10 Although the United States media abided by the gag order ...
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