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Open Justice - The Constitutional Right to Attend and Speak About Criminal Proceedings

NCJ Number
M D Lepofsky
Date Published
390 pages
This study examines the balancing of the accused's right to a fair trial and the public's right of access to criminal proceedings in Canadian law both before and after the 1982 Charter of Rights and compares the Canadian position on these issues with these rights under the U.S. Constitution.
Traditionally, attendance at and speech about criminal proceedings in Canada have been substantially restricted through legislation and judicially fashioned common law rules, despite judicial rhetoric on the importance of openness in the administration of criminal justice in a democratic society. The accused's right to a fair trial has also not been traditionally safeguarded by adequate legal guarantees. This is in contrast to the mandates of the U.S. Constitution, which has clauses guaranteeing the right to free speech and press and the accused's right to a fair and impartial trial. The 1982 Canadian Charter of Rights guarantees Canadians for the first time the right to a fair trial, and the public and the media enjoy a new constitutional right to freedom of expression. Because these rights are mandated in the supreme law of Canada, they take precedence over any statutory or common law rules which unreasonably limit them. A table of cases, chapter footnotes, and subject index.