The “Twitter Town Hall” Comes Back to BC on Monday October 28

For several years now, the Provincial Court of BC has engaged in regular annual Twitter Town Halls as a form of digital outreach—an effort to bring more transparency about the judicial process through direct engagement between members of the Bench and the public.

The first one, carried out in 2016, garnered international attention from the Conference of Court Public Information Officers. An example of what a Twitter Town Hall looks like can be found here in the archived Twitter timeline from 2017. In the past the hashtag used was @AskChiefJudge.

This year, on October 28, it’s happening again, and it will bring together even more voices. Chief Justice Robert Bauman (BC Court of Appeal), Chief Judge Melissa Gillespie (BC Provincial Court), and well-known self-represented litigant Jennifer Muller will convene under the new hashtag #A2JChatBC.

All three are members of Access To Justice BC (A2JBC), which is a network of people and organizations connecting with each other to realize a common vision – access to family and civil justice for all British Columbians.

Behind the scenes, Judge Ann Rounthwaite (retired from the BC Provincial Court) continues to invest her time and enthusiasm by orchestrating the event. Representatives from the CBA BC and Courthouse Libraries BC will also be in attendance.

The BC Provincial Court’s announcement indicates some of topics we can expect the participants to cover. The panel wants to learn:

  • The progress people are seeing – What’s working? Where do you see change happening? What have you done that’s making a difference? What have you tried that you’ve learned from?
  • The opportunities the A2J movement offers – What doors has it opened for you? How has innovation improved your practice – or your satisfaction? How are you using legal tech to improve access to justice? And how would you like to use it?
  • The challenges you face when trying to improve access to justice – What’s getting in your way? What could make it easier? How have you overcome an obstacle?

It’s worth noting that this type of live engagement is something that Twitter does quite well: connect disparate voices while imposing enough brevity to create a conversation that can be followed, but not in a completely strict linear manner.

Save the date!

 

– Find Nate Russell on Twitter

Comments

  1. Check out my Ten Provoking #A2J Qs for #A2JchatBC on Oct 28, 2019 https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/ten-provoking-a2j-qs-a2jchatbc-oct-28-2019-dom-bautista

  2. I don’t have a Twitter account, but I noticed there’s also an email address – TwitterTownHall@provincialcourt.bc.ca – for submitting questions, so here’s what I’ve submitted:

    One issue I believe should and can be addressed is regarding the practice of judges’ extra-judicial engagements with private interests that the public doesn’t learn about. Those self-represented litigants who perceive a potential bias on the part of judges may be a minority of SRLs (e.g. perhaps only rarely including litigants in family matters) but I’m sure I’m not alone in having perceived such biases.

    When those engagements include speeches (aka lectures) I believe they should be published.

    Among the speeches of which I became aware one that is particularly illustrative was published on the website of the Canadian Association of Counsel to Employers. The title was “QUERULOUS OR VEXATIOUS LITIGANTS, A DISORDER OF A MODERN LEGAL SYSTEM?”. It was removed from CACE’s website sometime after I found it and commented about it, however a copy is currently accessible online at http://docplayer.net/42653086-Querulous-or-vexatious-litigants-a-disorder-of-a-modern-legal-system.html . The author is still sitting on the Court of Appeal of Quebec. I suggest it is obvious why any SRL potentially appearing before that court would reasonably perceive in that speech reason to be concerned about bias.

    My question then is can the judiciary commit to ensuring that all such records are published, and if not then why not.

  3. Because I saw this comment in time, I took the step of reposting it (and paraphrasing) for the Town Hall, here: https://twitter.com/nrusse/status/1188916828006952960

    The answer is here: https://twitter.com/BCProvCourt/status/1188918421624197120
    We have 100+ judges who frequently speak in their communities, often without a written speech, so we cannot publish everything. However, I will look into the possibility of adding copies of a few of my major speeches to the Court’s website ^CJPC #A2JChatBC

  4. I thank you Nate for taking that initiative, and Ms. Litzcke for providing some further clarification. If I hadn’t commented here I wonder if my question would have been part of the twitter record at all.

    The response from BCProvCourt was disappointing. I asked for a commitment or an explanation of why there wouldn’t be one. The most important point is that extra-judicial contact between judges and private interests will be perceived by some litigants as raising concerns about bias (including unconscious bias).

    I have seen over the years many examples of such contact that clearly raise such concerns.

    On the old CJC website just now I searched on the name Rossiter. Eugene Rossiter is a CJC member. The search found this entry – https://www.cjc-ccm.gc.ca/english/news_en.asp?selMenu=news_2017_0720_en.asp – in news. A search on the new website – cjc-ccm.ca -did not find it.

    Given how easily Justice Rossiter’s CJC colleague, Justice Michael MacDonald, dismissed the concerns, one wonders why the Executive Director felt the need to have the CJC speak on the matter at all. Perhaps it was simply to reinforce a position that judges must be encouraged to attend functions like that one that was held in Spain.

    Who paid the expenses for Canadian judges to attend that conference? My guess is we – the Canadian public – did. So the issue of speeches and similar engagements is tied to the issue of judges’ expenses, which was the topic of some parliamentary deliberations quite recently.

    I believe that a provision could and should be added to the Judges Act that ensures that the public learns about all such engagements and has access to the substance of all speeches and similar materials.

Leave a Reply

(Your email address will not be published or distributed)