December 11, 2020
R v Melvin 2020 NSSC 356
On October 5, 2017, Mr. Melvin was convicted of having attempted the murder, and conspiracy to commit the murder, of Terry Marriott Junior, on December 2, 2008. He has been in custody on those charges since July 2015. The Crown has applied to have him designated a dangerous offender. The hearing evidence for that sentencing commenced on July 6, 2020 and ended on November 2, 2020.
While the hearing was ongoing, Melvin was involved in an incident at the jail, caught on videotape. He applied to ban publication of the video so as not to prejudice charges which may arise from that. To date, no charges arising out of that have been laid. The dissolution of the ban was stayed for 20 days to give time for an appeal.
The court found:
- There is an air of reality about the prejudice “should he be charged” with an offence arising from the videotaped incident. It’s a question of when, not if, he’ll be charged.
- The prejudice that the videotaped incident potentially adds to potential jurors is not so material that he needed a ban to get a fundamentally fair trial, considering the other evidence from the dangerous offender hearing will be in the public domain.
- Even if it were necessary to impose a ban to avoid a serious risk to the administration of justice, challenge for cause and instructions would guard against that risk.
- Even if it did not, weighing the salutary and deleterious effects, the ban suppresses information about the functioning of the justice system generally and specifically in relation to this particular offender, inhibiting reporting on the dangerous offender application. The deleterious effects outweigh the salutary effects.
The court referred to and relied on two recent decisions from the Nova Scotia Court of Appeal, United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland (Atty. Gen.) v LA, 2020 NSCA 75; and R v Verrilli, 2020 NSCA 64.