PWAC Very Pleased with Pro-Writer Decision in Ontario Court


PWAC Very Pleased with Pro-Writer Decision in Ontario Court

The subpoenas demanding access to the confidential research materials of writer Derek Finkle were thrown out of a Toronto courtroom yesterday afternoon, as the judge in the Robert Baltovich trial delivered a strong decision protecting writers' rights.

PWAC is very pleased with the decision to quash the subpoenas, and feels that the public good is best served when a writer's independent research is protected from court pressures. The association intervened in the Finkle hearing, filing an affidavit about writers' rights alongside similar interventions by Canadian Journalists for Free Expression (CJFE) and The Writers Union of Canada (TWUC).

Finkle was subpoenaed early this year by prosecutors preparing for the retrial of Robert Baltovich, accused of murdering his girlfriend Elizabeth Bain in 1990. Finkle wrote a bestselling book about the original case and trial, entitled No Claim to Mercy, and the research for that book included many hours of interviews with key persons in the trial. Prosecutors wanted those materials.

“It is in the public’s interest when police and courts do their own investigative work,” said PWAC Executive Director John Degen, who was present for much of the Finkle proceedings, “rather than relying on the work of writers. If Mr. Finkle had been perceived as an arm of the police or prosecutors when he did his obviously valuable investigations, it’s doubtful he’d get very far in his work. Obviously there is a balance to maintain, and PWAC feels the court has made the correct decision.”

PWAC, established in 1976, is the national organization representing 600 freelance writers and journalists in Canada.

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John Degen, Executive Director