Usually, when the Supreme Court of Canada decides to support a verdict, it’s the end of the legal process. No further appeals can come forward. And all existing publication bans are lifted.
Not in the Pickton case. The trial judge, James Williams, recently decided to keep a publication ban on the name of the woman who fought for her life in 1997 when Pickton tried to handcuff her after taking her to his farm. Both of them nearly died in their fight ; she stabbed him and he stabbed her.
Her name is on the public record but today the ban remains in place despite an appeal from the media to remove it. I used her name in my first book on the case, The Pickton File, but did not describe her testimony which was still under a ban. (Her testimony does appear in On the Farm.)
Her name is well-known and has appeared in hundreds of websites and in press reports in the past. Because of the judge’s decision my publishers had to reset the type in On the Farm and give her a pseudonym — “Sandra Gail Ringwald” — a name that has the same number of letters as the woman’s real name.
There are also bans in place on the BC Appeal Court’s reasons for criticizing Williams in the way he handled Pickton’s trial. The criticisms are interesting:
The court said Williams should not have severed the original counts from 26 to 6, that he should not have thrown out the count for Jane Doe, whose severed skull was found in a slough near Mission with other bones found buried in the dirt near Pickton’s house, and he should not have refused to hear the evidence of “Sandra Gail Ringwald” — the now-anonymous woman who survived the knife fight in 1987.