Pub Bans and Sealing Orders

R. v. Huth 2013 BCSC 2123

Immediately after the conviction of Brandon Huth for manslaughter, CTV Vancouver Island News applied for the release of copies of certain videotapes entered as exhibits at trial, for the purpose of immediate broadcast.

The exhibits were forensic copies of footage originally obtained from private surveillance cameras located inside and outside a McDonald’s restaurant in Victoria, BC.

Despite the objections of the defence and the concerns of the deceased’s family, Justice Macaulay ordered the release of the copies of the videotapes.

In his judgment, Justice Macaulay states:

[4] In summary, CTV is presumptively entitled to access as sought unless an order limiting access is necessary to prevent a serious risk to the administration of justice.

After citing the test as set out in Mentuck, Macaulay J. goes on to say:

[7] Granting access to CTV so that it can use the images in its broadcast does not, in my view, present a serious risk to the administration of justice. The trial is over and reference to the images may make the media commentary on either the trial or my judgment more understandable for the public. In that way, the broadcast of images may enhance perceptions that the trial was fair. CTV’s offer to blur the facial features of all persons apart from Huth and the deceased fairly takes into account their privacy interests.

Schedule “A” of the judgment sets out a protocol to be followed in such cases, where counsel anticipates media interest in a trial, with instructions on the following:

Exhibit Access Protocol

Objection to Media Access to Exhibits

Exhibit List – Media Access Designation

Macaulay, J., concludes by stating:

[20] The protocol, or one similar to it, should remove the necessity for unnecessary media applications while also providing a reasonably efficient means of resolving most issues respecting media access to, and the permitted us of, copies of exhibits.