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J4K Court Reporting
Transcript of J4K Court Reporting
-Canadian Broadcasting Corporation 'Breaking down' legal jargon for the public Covering interesting events and issues Supreme Court of Canada established 1875 1982 Supreme Court of Canada allowed cameras in court during Patriation Reference case. 1981 The Radio Television News Directors Association of Canada conducted taped court proceedings. It became a one-week series of news reports 2009 2010 Ontario Superior Court allows live tweeting during trials 2013 Symes Rodriguez Thibaudeau CBC Murder Abortion
Injunction Environmental Offense Impaired
Driving "Responsible communication on matters of public interest" Supreme Court allows journalists to use defence of "responsible communication" against libel suits. Supreme Court says journalists do not have constitutional right to hide identity of sources during police investigations Russell Williams Ontario Court of Justice, Belleville, ON Frontenac County Court House, Kingston, ON Shafia Family Murder Trial
Mohammad Shafia, Tooba Yahya, Hamed Shafia January 2012
Four counts of first degree murder and conspiracy to commit murder
Life sentences, minimum of 25 years before parole eligibility October 2010
Two counts of first degree murder
Two counts of forcible confinment
Two counts of breaking and entering and sexual assault
82 charges of breaking and entering
Two life sentences, minimum of 25 years before parole eligibility Ontario Court of Justice,
London, ON 'Tori Stafford Trial' Michael Rafferty and Terri-Lynne McClintic May 2012
First degree murder, kidnapping, sexual assault
Life sentence, minimum of 25 years before parole eligibility Covering Jury Trials Common Court Reporting Pitfalls Trial by Media - judge only
- usually minor offences
- devoted to judicial duty
- relatively quick In Canada, you're innocent till proven guilty. You wouldn't know it from reading Christie Blatchford's columns
- Mike Drach, Ryerson Journalism Review Descriptive articles that have a trademark sarcastic and conversational prose. She usually decides if the accused is guilty or innocent on the first day "But Yahya and Shafia never heard of such killings before?
Their testimony on this point was transparently self-serving and nakedly dishonest: They were lying through their teeth.
But then lying is like breathing to this family." Jan. 2012 √"On that June night in a lovely place in one of the freest and luckiest nations in the world, at the hands of those who should have most loved and protected her, she was killed because, well, she was a girl." Jan. 2012 Q: Is Christie Blatchford more columnist than journalist? When Blatchford joined the Post in 1998, she became the country's first columnist writing exclusively on the courts, and arguably the country's most popular columnist, period Others have expressed concern that the function of the court columnist, essentially a cross-examiner with a national audience, is far too powerful to be left unaccounted for-especially in hands less capable than Blatchford's While reporting on Amina Chaudry, Blatchford let her coverage betray her personal feelings.
Court reporters would have strictly recounted the facts of the trial. Her articles described Chaudhary, then 35, as "vacant," "patronizing," a "child-killing, baby-making sex machine." She wrote, "It was all I could do, while watching her testify, not to leap into the witness box and slap her hard across her pretty face." Bench/Court Trial vs. Jury Trials judge and jury
standard for criminal cases
more likely to sympathize
slower than bench trials Fair Trial vs. Free Expression Article 14: right to fair and public hearing by a competent, independent and impartial tribunal
Article 19: freedom to seek, receive and impart information and ideas of all kinds International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights Danger: Contempt of Court no special treatment for media
trend: bolder coverage permitted but cannot influence or scandalize the courts explicitly linking the accused to the crime
ignoring the other side
reporting past crimes or other incriminating information Remember the golden rule! jurors today will seek out information
Andrew Seymour's golden rule
sub judice = "under consideration of the court" What the jury Shafia trial
Mohammed Shafia offered a bribe of $10,000
testimony of domestic abuse Tori Stafford trial
Michael Rafferty's Internet history
testimony from past girlfriends
security measures didn't see/hear The trial has ended Some examples Lack of time and resources 24-hour news cycle Are journalists doing enough follow-up coverage? Going beyond the court Chris Cobb on Russell Williams
Omar Sachedina on Shafia
John Vannavally-Ray on Tori Stafford Shrinking newsrooms
"Rip and read" journalism
The legal affairs reporter The need for speed
Changing uses of resources Cobb: "Often, so much is written in advance of the verdict ... when it's done, it's done.
Pohle: "There isn't enough legal reporting .. but [some examples] show it is possible -- and it should be done."
Winigron: "We [at CFRA] used too do more follow up than we do now. But that's an evolution based on feedback we get from the listeners. Restrictions in Court Reporting Overview of Canadian Courts What is a publication ban? Interview with Ontario Justice of the Peace Herbert Radtke Recording in the Courts Insight Open Court Principle: Charter of Human Rights and Freedoms Sec.2b:
protection of press and other media of communication gag order
exclusion order Statutory Requirement Common-law grounds Interview with Klaus Pohle, media law professor Criminal Code
youth criminal codes
family law acts
security and anti-terrorism acts pre-jury information
evidence of bad character contempt of court Types of Publication Bans proceedings at a bail hearing or set date court
(5.7 Criminal Code) identity of a witness or a justice system participant
486.5 Criminal Code identity of a victim of a sexual offense
486.4 Criminal Code Big debate: Judicial system vs Media Ontario bans audio and visual recordings of court proceedings really depends on the judge New information
Legislative implications #ColRW #Shafia #ToriStafford Questions going forward:
•How do you train twitter reporters when media outlets are already stretched out?
•Will twitter open up the possibility for cameras in the courtroom?
•What about twitter pictures and now, video with vine?
•What about other social media issues like Facebook connections?
•What should consequences be when you are not tweeting appropriately?
•Only accredited journalists can tweet. Who is a journalist? - Media outlets collaborating together with their lawyers to gain access to the courts
- Russell Williams sentencing is the first case live tweeted by all major news outlets
- As of Feb. 1, live tweeting is permitted across Ontario courts
- A federal commission is looking at policies
- Judges can still ban twitter but journalists no longer need lawyers to argue for it on an individual basis Previously live tweeted cases: Bandidos mass murders and the Grehound beheading case
Twitter is a turning point because you offer live coverage that was never possible in court
Another turning point: There is no editor
Some journalist flounder but others flourish . . . •Take note of publication bans and do not tweet it if the jury should not know
•Look at if the tweet enhances the story
•Use discretion with graphic details. Know what to omit.•Include observations of the courtroom setting, peoples reactions
•Write journalistically, not stenography•Need to be devoted to just tweeting — not also filing a print story
•Master the craft of twitter
(she has tweeted from Haiti earthquake site) vs. •Twitter ban because the judge deemed it too “instantaneous”•Also concerns about issues of translation•Reporters tweet outside, locked in for verdicts•Word still gets out•Overall, seen as too harsh a restriction Should cameras be allowed in the courtroom?
What are some examples of good and bad court reporting you've seen on these cases?
Do you agree with the Toronto Star's decision to publish Russell Williams photo on the front page?
DEBATE: Who took the right approach in tweeting the #ToriStafford case, the Globe and Mail or the Toronto Star? The 'court' beat is not a joke. Journalists should know the law even if their bosses don't!
Every case has their own merit - be sure to check court websites for details.