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Ontario is expanding the scope of cameras in its courtrooms. As of Sept. 5, 2007, some Court of Appeal proceedings will be available live on the Internet and for broadcast by the media under a new pilot project. Robert Benzie reports in the Toronto Star.

By Robert Benzie
Toronto Star

Attorney General Michael Bryant is expanding the scope of cameras in Ontario courtrooms.

As of today, some Ontario Court of Appeal proceedings will be available live on the Internet and for broadcast by the media under a new pilot project.

Bryant said yesterday that courtroom Number 1 at Ontario’s highest court is now wired and live streaming can be accessed via the website www.ontariocourts.on.ca/appeal.htm . An audio feed box will also allow journalists to tape proceedings.

Earlier this year, Steven Truscott’s landmark appeal before the court was televised, ushering in the TV age to a provincial court system that has resisted change.

“We are giving the public a front-row seat in the Court of Appeal,” said Bryant, who has pushed for more openness in the courts for years.

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Today’s move stems from a blue-ribbon panel on justice and the media that issued an August 2006 report, with 17 recommendations urging more court accessibility.

Bryant said he hoped the changes would “increase the openness and transparency of our justice system” and help the public better understand how the courts work.

But the jury is still out on whether cameras should be allowed in courtrooms during criminal and civil trials.

In the past, Bryant has said Ontario courts should “avoid the circus” surrounding high-profile proceedings like O.J. Simpson’s 1995 televised murder trial in Los Angeles.

Originally published Sept. 5, 2007. Reprinted by permission.