Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
A publication ban is a court order which prohibits the public or media from disseminating certain details of an otherwise public judicial procedure. Publication bans are most commonly issued when the safety or reputation of a victim or witness may be hindered by having their identity openly broadcast in the press. They are also commonly issued when the crime involves minors or is sexual in nature.
In Canada, the role of publication bans came under intense scrutiny in April, 2005 when Justice Gomery issued a publication ban on the testimony of three key witnesses at the Gomery Inquiry. The ban was granted at the request of the lawyers for the Jean Brault, Paul Coffin and Chuck Guite who argued intense media coverage would bias potential jurors for their upcoming criminal trials. Shortly after the ban was issued, however, an editorialized summary of Brault's testimony was posted on an American blogger's website where it was immediately accessible and well known to Canadians interested in the story. Also, somewhat strangely, the inquiry remained public to anyone willing to venture to where the procedings were being held; thus, the opposition parties were aware of what was being revealed at the inquiry, even while their respective leaders were kept intentionally unaware to prevent them from accidentally violating the ban at a press conference. Justice Gomery later lifted the ban on most of the testimony.
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