In support of open courts

AuthorIris Fischer
g Summer 2016
n u f pen curs
In February of this year, many were captivated by Jian Ghomeshi’s
sexual assault trial. That case, and the social media posts and report-
ing that preceded the charges, started a national conversation about
sexual assault and the criminal justice system. It also raised important
questions about court openness and privacy interests, and where the
balance should lie.
In the Ghomeshi trial, a coalition of the media applied to get access
to the trial exhibits, as the media does in other trials where there is a sig-
nicant public interest– the James Forcillo trial and Tim Bosma murder
trial, to name two recent examples. But unlike Forcillo and Bosma, in
Ghomeshi the media was the subject of strong criticism, even virulent
online attack, for its application to unseal a photo exhibit– the “bikini
photo” of the rst complainant.
I acted for the media coalition in the Ghomeshi case. Here’s why
the media applied to get access to all the exhibits in that case, which
was granted subject to the right of any interested party to object to the
release of a particular exhibit. And here’s why the media sought access
to the bikini photo, which it didn’t get.
I will start with some rst principles.
We have decades of case law that makes it clear: Our courts are pre-
sumptively open, and exhibits are presumptively accessible. This is the
case even when what is being adjudicated upon is highly personal, as it

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