On Friday, November 20th, 2015 RadicalPress.com publisher Arthur Topham returned for the third time to the B.C. Supreme Court in Quesnel to attend another bail hearing in the wake of the November 12th, 2015 guilty verdict in Count 1 of his two count indictment.
Crown prosecutor Jennifer Johnson was seeking what turned out to be a series of extremely harsh conditions that would have seen Topham charged with an additional criminal offence for allegedly publishing Crown disclosure documents as well as severe restrictions that would have prevented him from operating his website. In addition to those added Orwellian features Crown was also seeking unconstitutional conditions that would have prevented outside media from speculating on the reasons for the jury’s decision to find Topham guilty of Count 1. And finally, new conditions that were ostensibly meant to protect jury members from being subject to criticism or harassment.
Both Supreme Court Justice Bruce Butler and Defence Attorney Barclay Johnson appeared via telephone from Vancouver and Victoria while Topham attended in Quesnel along with Crown prosecutor Jennifer Johnson.
Crown made its presentation to Justice Butler followed by Defence counsel Johnson who countered all of Crown’s arguments with reasoned facts. When the smoke finally cleared it was apparent that Justice Butler wasn’t buying into Crown’s arguments and declined to impose any new conditions besides those already in effect with the exception of one small concession related to the safety of the jurors.
Crown, in its submission, argued that a photo of the potential jurors lined up in front of the courthouse on the snowy morning of October 26th (the first day of the trial) had been published on RadicalPress.com and it potentially posed a possible threat to the safety of the jury members (the photo, upon inspection didn’t show the faces of any of the people who were actually on the jury). Justice Butler was willing to concede to Crown’s request that it be removed and rather than have it written up in the new conditions Crown stated that if Mr. Topham would give the court his word that it would be remove then she would be happy with that. I assured Justice Butler that I would remove the photo as soon as I returned home and that was the end of it.
My wife and I and body guard Frank Frost left the courthouse feeling rather elated about the decision and knowing that RadicalPress.com had been victorious once again in retaining its right to carry on publishing until the Charter challenge to Sec. 319(2) was heard. The date for the Charter application has been tentatively set for the week of January 25th, 2016.