And therein lies the problem with publication bans.
If you’ve already read our piece on A1 today about Thomas Kruger-Allen being granted bail, there’s a good chance you’ve also scratched your head and wondered why.
To recap, he’s accused of assaulting four different people in a melee at Okanagan Lake Beach in downtown Penticton. One of his alleged victims, Brad Eliason, later spent weeks in a medically induced coma. Eliason remains in hospital, having had part of his skull removed to reduce swelling of his brain.
On the face of it, Judge Michele Daneliuk’s decision to release Kruger-Allen seems outrageous. But there are two sides to every story. Want to hear the other side? Sorry, we can’t tell you.
A routine publication ban applies to everything heard at the bail hearing. We say routine, because such bans are mandatory when requested by the accused.
Ostensibly the bans are meant primarily to avoid tainting the jury pool that may hear a case at trial, and to a lesser extent to preserve people’s right to be presumed innocent because evidence heard at bail hearings hasn’t been proven beyond a reasonable doubt.
Practically speaking, however, bans on bail hearings are outdated. Few cases ever reach a jury, and even those that do take years to get to trial, so the chances of jurors being tainted now is almost nil.
And while we certainly agree with people’s right to be presumed innocent, we also believe strongly in the public’s right to know.
We’re tired of the kid-glove treatment, but it won’t change anytime soon.
In 2010, the Supreme Court of Canada upheld the validity of publication bans on bail hearings after challenges from CBC, Toronto Star and other major news outlets.
So, if you still want to know what compelled the judge to release Kruger-Allen, you’ll just have to wait until he’s been sentenced or convicted at trial.
That’s justice – Canadian-style.
— City editor Joe Fries