A number of people have been asking me what happened at the trial at which I testified in Victoria, BC on 12 March of this year.
I didn’t have a clue. I was there for one day. There was no media coverage. I was in the dark.
Well, the following article appeared in yesterday’s Victoria Times Colonist:
15 April 2014: Blogger found guilty of violating judge’s publication ban
Gregory Hartnell has been found guilty of breaching the publication ban on the Father Phil Jacobs preliminary hearing. And, yes, the breach entailed comments he blogged on Sylvia’s Site. I thought there was more to the charges than that, but, as I found out when I arrived in Victoria to testify, the charges related solely to comments he posted on Sylvia’s Site.
The message to one and all is loud and clear: please please take care one and all on reporting what happens in court during preliminary hearings. There is virtually always a publication ban on all testimony at preliminary hearings. And there is generally always a publication ban on the identity of victims at both preliminary hearings and at trial.
As you see, there was also a publication ban on the Hartnell trial. I wasn’t aware of that until now. Thankfully, for a variety of reasons, I didn’t blog a word :) What an absolute comedy of errors that would have been!
Anyway, the verdict for Gregory Hartnell is guilty. Sentencing is yet to come. But, as you see, Hartnell is first challenging the constitutionality of Section 539. (1) of the Criminal Code of Canada. If that section is struck down Hartnell will not be convicted. I would guess that this is a Charter challenge claiming right to freedom of speech?
Here is the wording of Section 539 (1) of the Criminal Code:
539.  Prior to commencement of the taking of evidence at a preliminary inquiry, the justice holding the inquiry
- [a] may, if application therefor is made by the prosecutor, and
- [b] shall, if application therefor is made by any of the accused,
make an order directing that the evidence taken at the inquiry shall not be published in any newspaper or broadcast before such time as, in respect of each of the accused,
- [c] he is discharged; or
- [d] if he is ordered to stand trial, the trial is ended.
I don’t know when the next court date is. I will do what I can next week to find out. I am certainly interested.
The judges’ Reasons for Judgement (for the guilty verdict) should be posted within the next week or so. Perhaps that will be put on hold pending the outcome of the challenge? if not I will post for the benefit of all. It is good for all of us to know.
I will now get back to my notes from the Father Rene Labelle sentencing of Monday 14 April 2014 in order to give you a little more info on what transpired in the courtroom.
Just as a point of interest, yesterday we had rain, freezing rain, hail and snow. The ground at day’s end was white again. The snow is gone now, but it’s darn chilly. Yesterday apparently hit an all time low for 15 April.
Enough for now,