The Canadian Bar Association British Columbia

The Canadian Bar Association British Columbia

March 22, 2010 16:47 ET

Canadian Bar Association Calls for Education-Not Just Cameras-in the Courtroom

VANCOUVER, BRITISH COLUMBIA--(Marketwire - March 22, 2010) - Responding to recent calls for cameras to be placed in courtrooms, James Bond, President of the British Columbia Branch of the Canadian Bar Association (CBABC) said that public confidence in the justice system requires an investment in ensuring public knowledge and understanding of the courts, not just a 'quick fix' of placing cameras in the courts.

"There are already policies in place at both the provincial and supreme court level, which allow for cameras to be in the court and proceedings to be broadcast to the public," said President Bond. "The key is that there are times when public interest in having cameras there may not always outweigh the interests of ensuring that justice is served for all parties. For example, family law matters should never be broadcast – those are private, often emotional, disputes that can include children. We believe their privacy should be protected."

"There are many interests, both public and private, that have to be balanced when considering cameras in the courtroom - the safety of prosecutors and witnesses, for example, or the possibility of deterring other witnesses from coming forward. There is no one-size-fits-all answer, which is why the current policies that permit cameras in the courtroom also allow the judge to consider the circumstances of each case before deciding whether they will be used."

Research completed by Simon Fraser University Professor Neil Boyd, commissioned by the CBABC and funded by the Law Foundation, reviewed literature from Canada and other jurisdictions and concluded that education about the justice system positively affects public confidence in the system.

"Cameras alone do not increase people's knowledge and understanding of the justice system, which is why teachers, lawyers, judges and legal educators like the Justice Education Society continually seek to build that knowledge," said President Bond. "We are concerned that government cuts to the funding provided to the Justice Education Society have crippled its efforts to educate children, adults and new immigrants about the laws of BC and the realities of courtroom procedures, processes and principles. Education - not just cameras - is what we need in our courtrooms."

The Canadian Bar Association is the professional organization representing more than 38,000 lawyers, judges and law students in Canada, including 6,500 members in British Columbia.

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