Judge to decide whether Oland domestic violence allegations will be made public

·3 min read

A judge has reserved her decision about whether the details of a domestic violence allegation against Dennis Oland should be made public.

Lisa Andrik-Oland, Oland's estranged wife, was granted an emergency intervention order under the Intimate Partner Violence Intervention Act from an adjudicative officer in June.

But after reviewing the finding of the officer, Chief Justice Tracey DeWare of the Court of Queen's Bench found there wasn't enough evidence to maintain the order without a hearing. At the hearing held a few days later, Andrik-Oland's lawyer said her client and Dennis Oland had reached an agreement and asked for the emergency order to be set aside.

In June, DeWare set the order aside but imposed a publication ban on the details of Andrik-Oland's complaint.

The complaint came nearly a year after Oland was acquitted of second-degree murder in the 2011 death of his father, Richard Oland.

Six hours of arguments

In Saint John on Wednesday, lawyers argued for nearly six hours.

David Coles, a lawyer for the CBC and Telegraph-Journal, argued the details should be released, while lawyers for both Andrik-Oland and Oland argued the publication ban should remain in place.

DeWare said she will issue a decision by the end of January.

The lawyers, Oland and Andrik-Oland were present by phone Wednesday, with only DeWare, the stenographer and two reporters present in court.

In a sworn affidavit, CBC senior manager Deborah Nobes wrote there's public interest in revealing what evidence was used to obtain this emergency order. She said before the sentencing hearing at his first trial, Oland received more than 50 letters referring to his good character, but the granting of an emergency order would seem "at its face … seriously at odds" with those letters.

She said there's public interest in reporting on the evidence and findings, so that "the public may assess whether the order was properly issued."

Andrik-Oland's lawyer Martha McCarthy said sometimes the open court principle "hampers access to justice," as in cases of sexual assault where victims don't come forward out of fear their complaint will be made public.

McCarthy also said the details should remain under a publication ban to maintain her client's privacy.

"She's entitled to finality and privacy," McCarthy said. "[She] didn't ask for any of this."

Andrew Vaughan/Canadian Press
Andrew Vaughan/Canadian Press

McCarthy argued removing the publication ban would undermine the confidence in the intimate partner violence legislation, and might deter victims from coming forward.

"There was definitely sufficient evidence of the concerns with respect to my client's safety and security arising from her particular circumstances," McCarthy said. "Not just as a victim of intimate partner violence but also as somebody who was married to a man who became the subject of a media circus."

Coles argued this is a "very specific" case, and if there was a reason for the publication ban to remain for the sake of victim safety, then it should be upheld. But he said the evidence is not there.

"Where is the evidence that a publication ban was necessary to protect [safety]?" He asked during the hearing.

Questioning McCarthy, DeWare said if the intention of the intimate partner violence emergency legislation is for "complete confidentiality" to the person asking for intervention, then "wouldn't we see that in the legislation itself?"

McCarthy said yes, "for sure, they could have gone further," with the legislation, but they left it to the judge's discretion.

Lawyers for Oland and Andrik-Oland want the judge to dismiss the application to remove the publication ban, order the media to pay for the legal costs of the hearing and to remove their previous online stories about Andrik-Oland's request for emergency domestic violence intervention.