As of Monday, no one will be able to email, tweet or text from inside Quebec courtrooms without the consent of the judge. The move runs contrary to recent changes made in Ontario, B.C., Saskatchewan, Newfoundland and Labrador, where the courts sanctioned the use of electronic devices by lawyers and journalists during court proceedings.

As of Monday, no one will be able to email, tweet or text from inside Quebec courtrooms without the consent of the judge, the Montreal Gazette reported.

The new rules, formulated to maintain courtroom decorum, apply to the public, lawyers and, although lawyers and journalists will be able to use the electronic devices for taking notes. “It is prohibited to broadcast or communicate text messages, observations, information, notes, photographs, audio or video recordings from inside the courtroom to the outside,” reads the directive, which applies to all Quebec courts.

The move runs contrary to recent changes made in Ontario, B.C., Saskatchewan, Newfoundland and Labrador,where the courts sanctioned the use of electronic devices by lawyers and journalists during court proceedings.  On the national front, the Canadian Centre for Court Technology has come out in support of greater use of electronic devices to communicate court proceedings. 

In Quebec, the move comes eight years after photographers in courthouses across the province were restricted to designated areas. The Canadian Press reported the judges from the Superior Court, Court of Appeal and Quebec Court drafted the guidelines together.

Brian Myles, president of the Quebec Federation of Journalists, says he believes the judiciary acted too quickly and overreached in applying a blanket rule to all courts after just a few experiences with the technology.

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“Twitter is a tool of the 21st century and it allows journalists to bring the citizen into the courtroom,” Mr. Myles told the Canadian Press. “When you deprive reporters of this tool, you deprive citizens of useful information that allows them to understand better the justice system.”

Patrick Cormier, chief executive officer of the Canadian Centre for Court Technology, credits Quebec with coming forward with directives rather than leaving judges in the lurch without any rules to guide them. He also noted that the new directive only forbids journalists from using Twitter while court is in session. They can still tweet from outside and he called Quebec’s rules “a first step.”


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Tamara Baluja is an award-winning journalist with CBC Vancouver and the 2018 Michener-Deacon fellow for journalism education. She was the associate editor for J-Source from 2013-2014.