Journalists to be able to tweet from Ontario courtrooms unless told otherwise

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Effective Feb. 1, 2013, journalists will be able to tweet from Ontario Superior Court of Justice courtrooms unless a judge specifically states otherwise.

The Superior Court of Justice explains how such devices can be used by counsel, paralegals, law students, clerks and media in a new protocol that can be found on its website.  

Electronic devices can be used to transmit information from the courtroom to “a publicly accessible medium” such as Twitter of live blogs and those using them must  still follow the rules surrounding publication bans or other restrictions imposed by statute or court order.

Journalists still will be unable to use these electronic devices for photos or video. (For more on that, former CBC media lawyer Dan Henry gave a rousing acceptance speech at the CJFE gala earlier this month regarding the lack of cameras in court and how their presence would free up a reporter from “being a harried and hurried scribe.”)

These protocols are in effect unless a judge orders otherwise. This means: Journalists need not ask for permission to tweet from Superior Court of Justice courtrooms.

But as National Post reporter Adrian Humphreys pointed out on Twitter, the protocols define a number of terms including “publicly accessible live communication,” “judge” and “electronic devices.” It does not, however, define “media” or “journalists.” The public is not permitted to use electronic devices in the courtroom.

You can find the full protocol document here.  

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