Justice James Chipman today ruled for the Halifax Examiner, the CBC, and the Canadian Press in our application to unseal documents in the Glen Assoun case. Assoun is the man who was wrongfully convicted of the 1995 murder of Brenda Way and spent over 16 years in prison. Assoun was released on an extraordinary court-ordered parole in December 2014, and then fully exonerated for the crime on March 2, 2019.
The final paragraph in Chipman’s decision reads:
The investigation that had to be protected for a time is now complete. Members of the general public must be able to appreciate why relevant and reliable information was not disclosed to Mr. Assoun when it should have been. The public should be able to appreciate why bail was granted. They must be able to see why the Minister [Justice Minister David Lametti] made his decision [to overturn Assoun’s conviction and order a new trial]. The public has the right to know why the Crown led no evidence at the new trial and why the second degree murder charge was dismissed. It is in the interest of Mr. Assoun and the general public that Mr. Assoun’s story be told. The open court principle compels me to lift the [sealing] order and release the complete court file.
A true victory for dogged journalism. I hope that in the interest of true openness that you will be posting a breakdown of what this cost. People need to be aware of the cost of fighting for justice. And that requires openness from everyone. It’s a scandal that effective justice is only available to people with money. That will only change when people become aware of the cost.