The media circus I had anticipated for the Cody Legebokoff trial hasn’t quite materialized.
I had envisioned hordes of out-of-town media descending on the Prince George courthouse for the trial and turning the place into … well, a circus. (The Greg Matters inquest is still fresh in my memory.)
As it turns out, only a handful of provincial and national media have shown up for the opening days of the trial. And, from what I’ve seen, they’ve been respectful and the coverage, from both the local and national media, has been pretty good.
The National Post’s Christie Blatchford is here. Reading her coverage of the trial shows why she is one of the country’s best writers.
Global TV’s John Daly is also here. It will likely be one of his last big trials for Global as he has apparently taken a buy-out and will leave the station by the end of August. Fellow Global alumni Harvey Oberfeld is suggesting that Daly will move to CTV.
The Globe and Mail, CBC-TV, and Canadian Press also have reporters at the trial.
And, of course, the local media is there in full force as well.
While the media is doing its darnedest to get the stories out, Justice Glen Parrett, in his opening remarks to the jury, told them to ignore us or, more specifically, ignore media reports about the case.
“The media can get the facts wrong, and they delight in talking to people and giving them a chance to get the facts wrong,” he said.
As an example, he pointed to a story that ran in a couple of newspapers (not this one), quoting Mayor Shari Green saying the trial isn’t too big a deal in Prince George and suggested it has more of an impact on rural communities around the city because that’s where the crimes occurred.
As Parrett pointed out, three of the four murders were in Prince George. Green, of course, was putting a public relations spin on things, trying to protect the city’s image.
Parrett is right, the jury has to decide the case based on the facts presented in court. It has to be very difficult for them, especially over an expected six- to eight-month trial, to not see and/or be influenced by media reports on the trial. The jurors have the toughest job of all. The 10 men and four women on the jury have committed to being there for the full length of the trial. With the exception of the accused and spectators, for everyone else who is there, it’s their job.
Parrett told the jury several times that they are the judges of the facts and he is the judge of the law. And they are in it for the long haul.
Hats off to all the members of the jury for truly doing their civic duty. It’s not an easy task.
With the trial expected to last months, the crush of out-of-town media will soon wane only to return when a verdict nears.
It will be the local media that covers this trial from beginning to end. So stick with us.
For the record
My column last week needs correcting. Carla Johnston and Shari Green did not work together on the DBIA, as I had suggested.
My apologies to both.