Identification of N.L. lawyer in sexual assault case revealed as high court docket will not hear anonymity bid

The curtain has been lifted on the identification of Newfoundland lawyer Robert Common, after the Supreme Court docket of Canada declined Thursday to listen to an attraction that will permit him to proceed shielding his title from publication.

Till now, Common, 70, has been identified on court docket dockets in Newfoundland and Labrador solely by the initials R.R. 

He’s dealing with 4 counts of sexual assault and one in every of sexual interference, involving the identical alleged sufferer. She was 12 on the time of the primary alleged assault twenty years in the past.

Three of the fees have been laid towards Common in June 2021. The opposite two costs have been filed in January.

Final 12 months, Common was granted an interim ban in Newfoundland and Labrador Supreme Court docket, to dam his title from being revealed in relation to these prison proceedings.

CBC Information and CTV Information intervened, arguing the ban would intrude with the open-court precept and freedom of the press.

N.L. decide cautioned about ‘sea change’ in prison legislation

In March, Justice James Adams sided with the media organizations.

Adams dominated that granting the publication ban would run counter to the open-court precept and would change the legislation throughout Canada. 

“If a publication ban have been to be issued on this case, then nearly anybody charged with a prison offence might declare the identical safety,” the decide wrote in his choice.

“This could represent a sea change within the prison legislation. The suitable authority to make such a change is Parliament, not the court docket.”

Adams discovered that Common’s presumption of innocence isn’t in danger if no publication ban is granted.

“In defending the applicant’s popularity by issuing a ban on his identification, the court docket can be severely impacting the general public curiosity in encouraging individuals with related details about related allegations from coming ahead,” Adams wrote in his choice.

“It will additionally negatively impression the general public’s curiosity in seeing that every one people charged with prison offences are handled pretty and equally.”

The decide lifted the ban on Common’s title, however stayed that call pending Common’s bid to have the Supreme Court docket of Canada hear the matter.

Common is being represented by well-known St. John’s attorneys Rosellen Sullivan and Jerome Kennedy, in addition to Scott Hutchison of the high-profile Toronto legislation agency Henein Hutchison LLP. 

They argued that releasing Common’s identification risked his presumption of innocence, privateness, and the popularity of different professionals in his area. 

The attorneys contended that publication of his title would trigger lasting injury to Common, even when he’s discovered not responsible.

“The mixed impact of an web that by no means forgets and social media’s current capability to amplify irrelevant, inaccurate, or outdated info can’t be overstated,” they wrote within the utility to the court docket. 

The Supreme Court docket of Canada has declined to listen to arguments from Common, who needed a publication ban maintained on his title. (Patrick Morrell/CBC)

Common has labored in legislation for greater than three a long time as a lawyer on Newfoundland’s Avalon Peninsula.

The Legislation Society of Newfoundland and Labrador has sanctioned him 5 instances for the reason that early Nineteen Nineties for an array of misconduct regarding the career — none of which was prison in nature. 

Common had agreed that the ban might be lifted if he’s finally convicted.

Victims of sexual assault are routinely protected by a publication ban on their identification due to the character of the crime. 

The accused, nonetheless, isn’t protected by such a ban, except one is required to hide the identification of the sufferer. 

Common has elected trial by decide and jury. A seven-day trial is scheduled to start at Newfoundland and Labrador Supreme Court docket on Might 29, 2023.

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