Authorities issue guide to dos and don't when Pickton murder trial begins

Greg Joyce
Canadian Press

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

VANCOUVER (CP) - Drinking a beverage, chewing gum and reading will be allowed in certain court locations during the megatrial that begins next month for accused serial killer Robert Pickton, but sleeping, standing, talking, and bringing a noisy child to the proceedings will get you in trouble with the authorities.

Those are some of the dos and don'ts outlined in a guide sent to reporters recently and available for spectators intending to watch the Pickton trial scheduled to begin Jan. 8 in New Westminster.

With the trial only three months away, the authorities in charge of making sure it is organized properly have been busy with a myriad of details.

Hundreds of spectators and reporters are expected to attend the trial in B.C. Supreme Court, where a main courtroom and an overflow courtroom have been set up.

Already about 250 media have been accredited to cover the trial, including some foreign media outlets such as the New York Times.

To ensure the crowds attending the trial are accommodated as much as possible and the proceedings are conducted properly, the Attorney General's Ministry has issued a media information guide.

The guide provides the reader with an extensive table of contents and is available on the ministry's website, 

The guide includes a comprehensive page on "courtroom decorum," including Justice James Williams's pronouncements on various behaviours.

Under no circumstances is food allowed in either the main courtroom or the overflow courtroom.

A separate room for members of the victims' families has been established, as well as a separate room for the media who are not in the courtrooms.

Beverages, gum chewing and reading will be allowed in the family and media rooms. But like food, those three activities are prohibited in the courtrooms.

Any reporter who regularly covers court can attest it bears little resemblance to the court proceedings on TV and spectators occasionally fall asleep.

"Deputies will initially warn parties that there will be no sleeping in court," the guide states.

Talking and standing are also banned in court, although standing is allowed in the family and media workroom.

The sheriffs in charge of security and of maintaining decorum are also discouraging anyone from taking children to the trial.

"Deputies will warn adult/caregiver that this trial may be inappropriate for children at search gate," says the guide.

There will be two searches conducted every day: the first one when a person enters the building, the second at the entrance to the courtrooms.

In September, the Crown formally split the charges against accused serial killer Pickton into two cases, committing him to one trial on six murder charges and a second trial on the remaining 20.

Originally, Pickton had been charged on one indictment with murdering 26 women from Vancouver's Downtown Eastside over several years.

Pickton's trial began last January and has been hearing arguments by the Crown and defence about what evidence can be put before the jury when it begins listening to witnesses' testimony next January.

 The Canadian Press 2006

The Canadian Press



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