Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Manitoba Crowns in hoodies?

Good Day Readers:

Manitoba Crowns are opposing the expanded use of television in courtrooms to which CyberSmokeBlog says they need to shut their faces. Obviously, they've temporarily forgotten Canada has an open court principle.

Anyone whose work brings them into contact with the criminal element has to expect an element of risk be they prison guards, lawyers, judges, police and yes even Crowns it goes with the territory. One need look no farther than the recent case of lawyer Maria Matousis. While society can offer some measure of security to these individuals it will never be 24/7/365. People entering these professions must assess this risk at the time they're making career choices.

In today's society courtroom television is a significant learning tool especially with the exponential growth in self-rep litigants. It's benefits far outweigh the opposition of the Crowns.

Clare L. Pieuk
Crown attorneys concerned about safety, fight cameras in court

CBC and other Winnipeg media apply to allow cameras in court to cover inquest into 2 inmate deaths

Monday, January 25, 2016

CBC and other media outlets are fighting to cover an inquest into the deaths of two Stony Mountain inmates scheduled for January 28-29, 2016, (Chris Clover/CBC)

The Manitoba Association of Crown Attorneys says cameras and other recording devices in the courtroom could put their members in danger.

Three Winnipeg media organizations — CBC, the Winnipeg Free Press and CTV Winnipeg — recently applied to have video cameras in provincial court to cover an inquest into the deaths of Manitoba inmates Sheldon Anthony McKay and Durval David Tavares. The material would be broadcast by the organizations on radio, television and online.

Province calls for inquests into 2 Manitoba inmate deaths
Standing hearing to begin for inquest into Stony Mountain homicide

Broadcasting the voice and image of Crown attorneys on these platforms "creates more opportunities for Crown attorneys to be recognized, targeted and susceptible to harm," the Manitoba Association of Crown Attorneys said in its motion brief. "Like all people, Crown attorneys have a right to expect that their privacy will be maintained. They have a right to expect that they will not become recognizable to the general public in their private lives."

The association argues current methods of reporting on court proceedings, such as a reporter outside court recounting what happened, artist sketches and written quotes, are sufficient means to inform the public and barring cameras does not violate the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

CBC and its counterparts disagree.

"The law is now clear that filming and broadcasting an inquest falls within the scope of section 2(b) of the charter," say court documents filed by CBC, the Winnipeg Free Press and CTV. Section 2(b) of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms covers freedom of the press and other media of communication. Cecil Rosner, managing editor of CBC Manitoba, said cameras will give media an opportunity to cover the inquest into the inmates' death more fully and for a national audience.

"It is my experience that the ability to use video and audio recordings of judicial proceedings enhances the ability of the media to accurately report. A video recording of testimony can convey more complete information than a written or spoken verbal description, a written transcript or an artist's sketch," said Rosner's affidavit.

"These particular inquests involve the operations of federal government institutions and will be of interest to Canadians from all parts of the country who, by virtue of distance, will have no practical ability to attend," Rosner added.

Cameras in court makes process more public, say Manitoba's top judges

Manitoba courts allowing TV cameras in some hearings
A Manitoba pilot project called the cameras in the courtrooms initiative began testing the effects of allowing cameras in courtrooms in 2014. Crown attorneys have participated in the initiative and have appeared on television broadcasts in court.

​Rosner said in his affidavit he is not aware of any issues that have arisen during that pilot project.

MACA said if the inquest is recorded, videotaped and broadcast, Crown attorneys and other parties could suffer from:

invasion of personal privacy in the workplace;
a compromise to their safety;
stress; and
a general disincentive to assist the judge in achieving the mandate of the inquest.

The association cites several examples where Crown attorneys faced threats and breaches to their privacy as a result of their work.
Disguised men tried to invade Crown attorney's home, police allege

"The vast majority of Crown attorneys in prosecutions report being threatened at one time or another inside or outside of court. There is no evidence to suggest that those experiences are diminishing in likelihood. Rather, the likelihood of similar incidents occurring only increases when cameras are permitted in court," the MACA brief stated.

Correctional workers also expressed privacy concerns associated with being videotaped in court.

A decision by a provincial court judge on the question of allowing cameras to cover the McKay and Tavares inquest is expected soon.


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