AG Opens the Court House Door via Webcasts

Ontario to webcast some court proceedings and archive them online for 90 days.

TORONTO — In line with the recommendations of the Panel on Justice and the Media, some court proceedings will soon be webcast and provided to the media, Attorney General Michael Bryant announced today.

“Webcasting court proceedings and providing copies to the news media on DVD will increase the openness of our justice system,” said Bryant. “Dropping photocopy and inspection fees for court files by as much as two-thirds will increase access to the justice system. Faster, more open and affordable access to court records and proceedings will help the public and the media be full witnesses to the administration of justice.”

Bryant made the announcement at the Global Investigative Journalism Conference in Toronto, where he updated journalists in a town hall style meeting on the implementation of recommendations made by the Panel on Justice and the Media. Bryant also formally accepted the “Code of Silence Award”, which was awarded to him in 2006 by the Canadian Association of Journalists for having the highest fees in the country for accessing court records. Bryant is the first recipient to ever show up and personally collect the annual award.

Bryant also announced that, under a pilot project set to begin by summer, some proceedings in Courtroom #1 at the Court of Appeal for Ontario will be streamed live on the Internet. DVD copies of proceedings will be provided to the media twice per day and will be available for use by journalism and law schools and other organizations for educational and training purposes. Proceedings will also be archived on the site for 90 days to ensure round-the-clock public access.

While cameras are generally prohibited under the Courts of Justice Act, they are permissible for educational or instructional purposes, with approval from the presiding judge and consent from the parties to the proceeding. Bryant originally announced this pilot project during this year’s Opening of the Courts ceremony, in response to another recommendation made by the Panel on Justice and the Media.

This follows the Report last year on Cameras in the Courts.

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