Thursday, March 08, 2007

Striking A Blow For Citizen Journalism


(Updated at bottom re: CorpMedia coverage)

Robin Mathews was in B.C. Supreme court yesterday.

He wasn't in trouble or anything.

Quite the contrary.

He was there to observe the latest goings on in the BC Rail/Ledge Raid Trial which is showing real signs of sputtering to life.

And he sent a full report to Mary.

This is only one, amongst many, of the interesting items that caught our eye:

Madam Justice Bennett referred, in opening, to two matters of document release. The first, I gather, was that the Globe and Mail appeared to have the Jan. 26 Application for Disclosure (covered on this blog) before Madam Justice Bennett did.

Some kind of a leak it would seem.


In addition, a "member of the public" complained to the Justice about the fact that when major media were reporting upon and quoting from the Application, that person asked Criminal Registry for a copy and was bluntly refused.

She passed the letter to counsel.

Discussion followed among the judge and counsel, with the outcome that - apparently because of the public interest in this trial - all documents not under publishing ban will be available upon request from Criminal Registry (perhaps for a slight fee).

Madam Justice Bennett graciously opened up scrutiny of documents concerning this trial. She remarked that there is a presumption in the law of public access.

Two things.

First, it is important to realize that in a nation of laws, not media manipulation, the public must have as much access to court documents as either side's favorite corporate mouthpiece/stenographer of the day.

Second, everyone should know that the 'member of the public' referred to above is none other than Mr. Mathews himself.

As such, we owe him a great debt of gratitude.

And I, for one, very much look forward to his future, non-stenographic, reports from the trial over at Mary's place.


Update: Mark Hume, who most definitely was not the original stenographer, has a piece about this up in today's Globe (andnolongerempire)Mail. It is interesting (telling?), however, that Mr. Hume does not name the "member of the public had written a letter of complaint saying he had sought, and been refused, a copy of the application from the court registry". Is that because Hume did not know who it was, or was there another reason? Given that Bill Tieleman reported that the media including, apparently, The Globe, were all over Mr. Mathew's yesterday after Judge Bennett's ruling I have a hard time believing it was the former.


No comments: