CJFE Calls for End to Legal Fishing Season



    TORONTO, Feb. 27 /CNW/ - Yet another journalist has been hit with a legal
demand to turn over his mouldering research notes, and Canadian Journalists
for Free Expression (CJFE) wants to know when the parade of subpoenas will
stop.
    In a subpoena served on Friday, Feb. 21, a defence lawyer demanded that
Toronto-based freelancer Lon Appleby produce 11-year-old notes used to prepare
an article published in Toronto Life magazine in 1998.
    The article concerned the shooting death of 17-year-old Cameron Alkins.
The subpoena was served by lawyer Colin Adams, who is defending Roger James on
a charge of first-degree murder.
    CJFE intervened in a similar case last year, when journalist Derek Finkle
won a solid victory against prosecutors who sought to rummage through his
private notes relating to the murder trial of Robert Baltovich. The presiding
judge in that case, Justice David Watt, said in his decision that the Crown
had failed to justify its request with enough specific information and had not
proved that material evidence was likely to be produced. "Fishing season is
over," he declared.
    "I'm disappointed to learn that the 2008 fishing season has started
early," said Paul Knox, chair of the School of Journalism at Ryerson
University, speaking on behalf of CJFE. "If journalists are seen as tools of
the justice system, their ability to work independently in the public interest
will be severely compromised."
    Lon Appleby has retained lawyer Iain MacKinnon, who also represented
Finkle in his subpoena battle.
    Alkins was shot dead in 1996 as he walked to a corner store in
Scarborough, apparently by would-be robbers. Appleby's article on the case,
"Anatomy of a Homicide", appeared in the January 1998 issue of Toronto Life.
It underscored the difficulty police often face in getting witnesses in such
cases to co-operate.
    The investigation focused on James and Jeffrey Whyte, who had recently
escaped from prison. Whyte was convicted of manslaughter in Alkins' death, but
James fled Canada and has only recently been charged.
    CJFE believes that if Appleby is forced to turn over his research
material, journalists will be further discouraged from investigating sensitive
crime cases.
    "We should be encouraging articles such as "Anatomy of a Homicide", not
discouraging them," Knox said. "We hope the courts will continue to give
journalists room to play their vital role of giving Canadians access to
information they would not otherwise get."

    Canadian Journalists for Free Expression (CJFE) is an association of more
than 400 journalists, editors, publishers, producers, students and others who
work to promote and defend free expression and press freedom in Canada and
abroad.

    To get more information about becoming a member of Canadian Journalists
for Free Expression visit: http://cjfe.org/printjoineng.html





For further information:

For further information: Julie Payne, CJFE Manager, Tel (416) 515-9622
x.226, Fax (416) 515-7879, website: www.cjfe.org


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