Publication ban


Publication ban

A publication ban is a court order which prohibits the public or media from disseminating certain details of an otherwise public judicial procedure. In Canada, publication bans are most commonly issued when the safety or reputation of a victim or witness may be hindered by having their identity openly broadcast in the press. They are also commonly issued when the crime involves minors or is sexual in nature.

In the UK

A publication ban was issued forbidding any UK newspaper from releasing information regarding a memo which is alleged to have been an official transcript of a conversation between U.S. President George W. Bush and UK Prime Minister Tony Blair, which in the context of the planning for the 2003 invasion of Iraq, regarded a plan to bomb selected offices of the Arabic language Al Jazeera television news station.

In Canada

In Canada, the role of publication bans came under intense scrutiny in April, 2005 when Justice Gomery issued a publication ban on the testimony of three key witnesses at the Gomery Inquiry in the sponsorship scandal. The ban was granted at the request of the lawyers for the Jean Brault, Paul Coffin and Chuck Guite who argued intense media coverage would bias potential jurors for their upcoming criminal trials. Shortly after the ban was issued, however, an editorialized summary of Brault's testimony was posted on an American blogger's website where it was immediately accessible and well known to Canadians interested in the story. Also, somewhat strangely, the inquiry remained public to anyone willing to venture to where the proceedings were being held; thus, the opposition parties were aware of what was being revealed at the inquiry, even while their respective leaders were kept intentionally unaware to prevent them from accidentally violating the ban at a press conference. Justice Gomery later lifted the ban on most of the testimony.

In January 2005, author Stephen Williams was sentenced for violating the publication ban by including forbidden details in his two books on Paul Bernardo and Karla Homolka, making him only the second person sentenced for violating the publication ban—the first being one of the "Electronic ban breakers". Stephen Williams reached a plea agreement with the Canadian authorities in which he agreed that he would no longer use "any materials belonging to the Crown" as part of his writings. It is, as of this writing, unclear whether or not Stephen Williams will remain active in this case, but he was present at the June 2005 810.2 hearing for Karla Homolka, which would seem to indicate he will. See also Karla Homolka case publication ban.

In the U.S.

In the United States, courts almost never attempt to impose a prior restraint on the media, due to the protections of the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.

A notable legal dispute between the governments attempt to censor newspapers occurred in the context of the Watergate Scandal during the early 1970s. The Richard Nixon administration attempted to block the New York Times and the Washington Post from publishing information contained in the Pentagon Papers. The matter was resolved after a two-week delay by the United States Supreme Court in the "New York Times Co. v. United States" case, wherein the Court ruled that the publication ban was a violation of the First Amendment right to free speech.

ee also

* Sponsorship scandal, Jean Brault
* Dave Hilton, Jr.
* D-Notice


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  • ban — [ bɑ̃ ] n. m. • fin XIIe; frq. °ban 1 ♦ Anciennt Proclamation officielle, publique de qqch., en particulier d un ordre, d une défense. Mod. Proclamation solennelle d un futur mariage à l église. Les bans de mariage sont affichés à la porte de l… …   Encyclopédie Universelle

  • ban — (ban) s. m. 1°   Proclamation, publication. Battre un ban, battre la caisse pour annoncer qu il va être fait une publication. •   Avant le combat, la justice faisait publier trois bans, MONTESQ. Espr. XXVIII, 24. •   L aumônier d un roi de France …   Dictionnaire de la Langue Française d'Émile Littré

  • ban — BAN. s. mas. Mandement fait à cri public, pour ordonner ou pour défendre quelque chose. On a publié, battu un ban dans toute l armée, afin que tout le monde en soit averti. Et dans le même sens, on appelle Ban de vendange, La publication du jour… …   Dictionnaire de l'Académie Française 1798

  • publication — [ pyblikasjɔ̃ ] n. f. • 1290; de publier, d apr. lat. publicatio 1 ♦ Dr. Action de publier; procédure ayant pour objet de porter (un acte juridique) à la connaissance de tous. ⇒ promulgation. La publication d une loi. Publications des bans du… …   Encyclopédie Universelle

  • BAN — s. m. Proclamation, mandement public, pour ordonner ou défendre quelque chose. Le général fit publier un ban pour défendre aux soldats de s éloigner du camp.   Battre un ban, le ban, Battre la caisse d une certaine manière pour annoncer qu il va… …   Dictionnaire de l'Academie Francaise, 7eme edition (1835)

  • BAN — n. m. Proclamation pour ordonner ou défendre quelque chose. Le général fit publier un ban pour défendre aux soldats de s’éloigner du camp. Il a vieilli. Battre un ban, le ban, Battre la caisse d’une certaine manière pour annoncer qu’il va être… …   Dictionnaire de l'Academie Francaise, 8eme edition (1935)

  • publication — nf. (de mariage...) : PUBLyIKACHON (Albanais.001b, Annecy.003, Villards Thônes | 001a). A1) publication d une promesse de mariage à l église : publ(y)ikachon dé ban <publication des bans> nf. (028 | 001), ékriyà (Arvillard). A2) publication …   Dictionnaire Français-Savoyard

  • Ban Polje — 43° 46′ 27″ N 19° 17′ 59″ E / 43.7742, 19.2997 …   Wikipédia en Français

  • ban — nm., applaudissement (pour remercier quelqu un qui vient de chanter, de parler ou de porter un toast) : avouhé (Genève), ban (Villards Thônes). A1) ban, annonce => Mariage, Publication. A2) réglementation, (ban des fenaisons dans les marais de …   Dictionnaire Français-Savoyard

  • Publication des bans — Pour les articles homonymes, voir Ban. La publication des bans est une procédure ayant pour utilité de rendre publique l imminence d un mariage, et ainsi de veiller à ce que personne ne s’y oppose. Sommaire 1 Historique 2 Par pays …   Wikipédia en Français