From 1998 until 2002, injusticebusters was in the throes of an identity crisis. What was it? What were we doing? We grappled with editorial policy at the same time we were learning the nuts and bolts of building and posting a website. Once we had a secure, paid site I had full editorial control, although I talked regularly to Richard Klassen who was forced to move his family several times and did not always have access to the Internet.
I began following other threads to stories of police and prosecutorial misconduct and the site took on another facet to its character: a newsclipping scrapbook where stories could live longer than they would in print form. I also began picking up other stories of wrongfully convicted people. It was an explosion. By 2003 there were over 700 pages. I also had contact with several other people (Don Smith, Leon Walchuk, Monique Turenne, the Vopnis) and kept these stories going.
When Richard Klassen began to make progress in bringing his civil claim to court, the government and police defendants alleged he was breaking the rules of court by publishing discovery material on the Internet.
This claim was absolutely false. However, rather than risk being thrown out of his civil claim, Klassen undertook before Judge Mona Dovell to sever all ties with the website.
Now that some of the dust has settled, I have been going back through the material we had posted in the early days. In the spirit of keeping the scrapbook alive, I have been reformatting and placing links. The original material remains intact. I hope the information, which chronicles our struggle is useful to you.
The identity crisis is over. We know who we are
--Sheila Steele, March 28, 2005
There is a long and dishonourable history of court ordered gag orders on this case which was the subject of a 1999 feature by Dan Zakreski (he changed the names to get around MacPherson's order) has now been covered by CBC's Fifth Estate (2000), winning all the major broadcast awards in Canada for a full length feature which disclosed the names and brought the story to the entire country.
November 2, 2002: The StarPhoenix has run a feature which continues to keep the story in the public eye but is unreasonably restricted in what it is allowed to tell. Jason Warick, the writer of this feature had prepared another series of articles which was scheduled for publication last spring but was not run for what inJusticebusters understand to be legal reasons.
Reporting on a civil case (in this case, the $10M lawsuit) is different from reporting on a criminal case (Brian Dueck's arrest of and Saskatoon Crown Prosecutors' charges against sixteen innocent people in 1991).
The restrictions on the civil case would be laughable if they did not have such serious implications. The Rules of Court which limit discussion of material discovered during a civil claim exist to protect corporations and businesses from having their "trade secrets" unfairly divulged to competitors.
Every aspect of Foster Parent case, involving charges of violent sexual abuse of children, is in the public interest and should be in the public domain. In today's StarPhoenix article, Don McKillop continues to imply he believes the Klassens and Kvellos are child molesters in order to justify his continued defence of the prosecutors, cop and social workers in the $10M lawsuit. Dueck says he would really like to tell the "real" story but he is bound by lawyer's orders, again, implying that he is something other than a manufacturer of evidence to charge innocent people.
March 29, 1993
Attention: Anne M. Wallace
Dear Ms. Wallace:
Re: Queen v. Klassen et al. - Preliminary Inquiry Transcripts
Your letter of February 15, 1993, has been referred to me for attention and reply, and I apologize for the delay in responding.
As I understand the situation, following the preliminary hearing of 11 accused persons in this matter, Mr. Peter Klassen, after the appropriate election, entered a plea of guilty to certain charges whereupon the Crown entered a stay of proceedings in respect of the other accused persons, and that is the way the matter stands at the present time.
I see several problems in releasing to the public, or a member thereof, a copy of the transcript of the preliminary hearing at this time:
(1) At the outset of the preliminary hearing, the court, on application by defence counsel, made an order under s. 539(1) of the Criminal Code prohibiting the publication by broadcast or newspaper until the accused parties have been discharged, or until the trial has ended if the accused are committed. Neither of these events has occurred. The transcript does not indicate there was any limitations as to the application of this order as suggested in your letter.
(2) Further, the court at the outset also made an order pursuant to 486(3) in respect of all the complainants and witnesses involved in all the informations. That order remains in effect.
(3) While it rarely happens, still, under the Criminal Code s579(2) it is open to the Crown to recommence the proceeding within the time limited by that section. If that should occur with a jury trial or trials being the result, the publication of the testimony given at the preliminary hearing could have an unfavourable affect on the minds of potential jurors. While this factor was not considered in either the MacIntyre case o[r] the Vickery case, I feel it is a sound reason for refusing the release of those transcripts at the present time.
(4) You are aware that in Vickery, the Supreme Court of Canada held that public documents in the possession of the Court should be made available to the public except, inter alia, in situations where it is necessary to "protect the innocent". In my view, those "child complainants" and other young persons who testified at the preliminary, fall within the classification of "innocent persons" and I am satisfied that publication of their testimony, either now or in the future, could cause them great and undeserved embarrassment and anguish, and for this reason as well the transcript should not be released.
Based on the foregoing, I have ordered the local registrar of the Judicial Centre of Saskatoon to refuse to release the transcript.
I should add that I, and I believe the other members of this court, support the views as expressed by the then Chief Justice Dickson in Vickery, but I am of the view that the foregoing reasons are sufficiently compelling to refuse release of the transcripts.
I would add as well that later in the course of the preliminary hearing, the court did make an order under s. 486(1), presumably in the interest of "the proper administration of justice", excluding members of the public from the courtroom, and a further order under s. 486(2.1) that the child witnesses be screened from the accused persons. However, I do not view these orders as affecting my instruction that the transcript not be released.
(signed) D. K. MacPherson