CAJ urges B.C. provincial courts to reverse electronic-device policy

OTTAWA, Feb. 25 /CNW/ - The Canadian Association of Journalists is calling on B.C. provincial court to reverse a recently implemented policy banning electronic communications from inside its courtrooms.

The policy, due to come into effect Monday, would restrict the use of personal electronic devices within courtrooms— effectively killing the use of Twitter, liveblogging, texting and e-mail during trials. The use of these technologies in the past few years has resulted in a much higher level of transparency and access to what happens within our justice system.

The courts claim the data transmission functions of these wireless electronic devices compromises the quality of courtroom digital recording and audio systems.

"Our legal system is based on an open-court principle. Banning the use of technologies that allow the greatest number of people to witness court proceedings is a backwards step," CAJ president Mary Agnes Welch said. "We urge the B.C. courts to rescind this policy and encourage courts across the country to rise to the spirit of what it means to be an open court in 2011."

The use of electronic communications from inside a courtroom is governed by a patchwork of policies across Canada. Some courts openly allow it. In others media and the public must ask the permission of the presiding judge and it's outright banned in some courtrooms. The CAJ believes the use of these technologies should be allowed in every courtroom except when a publication ban is in effect.

The CAJ is Canada's largest national professional organization for journalists from all media, representing about 800 members across the country. The CAJ's primary roles are to provide high-quality professional development for its members and public-interest advocacy.

SOURCE Canadian Association of Journalists

For further information:

Mary Agnes Welch, CAJ president (204) 697-7590, cell (204) 470-8862
En Français:
Elizabeth Thompson, national director, (613) 986-5498


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