12 August 2010

"A court-ordered publication ban on the proceedings prevents the media from reporting on what was said in court."

Here we have the number one difference between the US and Canada:  not only a prior restraint on the press, but a ban on publishing what as said (in public) in open court.  Short of preventing certain people from speaking out on an election, it is hard to imagine a more core violation of the First Amendment (if, of course, the First Amendment applied).  Had I known, I would have been sorely tempted to go to court and then report what I heard once I returned to the (aptly named, in this case) Home of the Free.  Not because what was said was interesting -- I'm sure that it's anodyne eye-wash to the effect that she loves her mother -- but because governments simply shouldn't be allowed to get away with this shit.

The case is, as it happens, interesting.  A 19-year old woman came home late and was stabbed by her mother.  People seem to assume that the reason was the dishonor reflected on the family by having a late daughter.  All we are told about the family is that their name is Ebrahimi and they speak Farsi at home.  It also seems likely that they have not absorbed the majority culture.


erp said...

Here is the Home of the Free, Mrs. Ebrahimi might not have even been arrested, nevermind charged. Afterall her daughter isn't holding it against her, so why should anyone else care? Importing the superior culture and all.

Harry Eagar said...

I read about that on Volokh, and had the opposite reaction: Although in this particular case, the mother probably would have ended up in an open court, with family feuds that stop just short of stabbing, whatever went on would very likely have ended up in closed court, so no gag order would have been germane.

We get frequent claims that Family Court, which is rather more secure than Pentagon secret communications, is unfairly treating some party. There is no way of confirming this, and for all I know, Family Courts are cesspools of injustice.

But there is no movement that I know of to make Family Courts open.

It's one of those messy compromises that keep the system from seizing up.

AVeryRoughRoadAhead said...

Here in the Home of the Free, Mrs. Ebrahimi would have been arrested and charged, even if her daughter didn't hold it against her.

Armed assault is one of those crimes against society in addition to individual victims, and society will want its pound of flesh regardless of the attitude of the individual victims.

Peter said...

Whoa! It looks like somebody has reached that tipping point in a foreign vacation when the charm and novelty of the fresh and unfamilar gives way to a grumpy impatience that it ain't like home. I'll bet you are craving your Cheese Doodles by now too. The number one difference?

In fact, closed court proceedings and publication bans are very rare, except when they involve juveniles, and they certainly don't come about by government edict. Judges have the power to order them "in the interests of justice" (usually either for security reasons or to prevent "trial by media") but there is plenty of precedent warning them off and most won't, even when both sides want one. The press can be very dogged about challenging them.

Not saying it's better, just that you've got to remember that unwritten constitutions can indeed be worth the paper they are written on.

erp said...

Rough, see Harry's comment on Family Court.

AVeryRoughRoadAhead said...

You mean this part?: "Although in this particular case, the mother probably would have ended up in an open court..."

erp said...

That's Harry's opinion. Mine is she probably wouldn't have been charged.