The 180

'Before the courts' is not an excuse

Osgoode Hall Law Dean Lorne Sossin says reporters should stop taking 'before the courts' as an excuse for non-comment.

Consider this statement: "This matter is before the courts and I'm not going to comment on the specifics of the proceedings." It's the type of thing politicians tell journalists, and other politicians, saying they can't answer a question, because the issue is before the courts.

But Lorne Sossin, the Dean of the Osgoode Hall Law School at York University, says that while keeping your mouth shut during a trial might often be a good idea, it is not the get-out-of-jail free card that politicians seem to think it is.

I'm often struck by how rarely journalists ask the follow-up question, 'What aboutthe matter before the courts could constrain you from asking the question I've asked?', or at least get an elaboration on the scope in which a politician can answer questions.- Lorne Sossin

Sossin says that in cases where it's a non-criminal matter, or a case of broad public interest, there is little justification for politicians to skirt every question.