Caught on camera

Last week, in an interview with The Globe and Mail's Justice Hunter, the province's attorney general said he was "very concerned about what I see is a growing disconnect between the justice system and the people." And that's why he wants to launch a pilot project this fall to put cameras in British Columbia's courtrooms. But, as we earlier reported, Mike de Jong's ministry recently killed an annual survey measuring public confidence in the justice system. So he'll likely have to wait until the federal government conducts a similar countrywide survey in 2013 to find out whether those cameras have increased that confidence. Fancy that!

6 Comments

I never knew Mike de Jong was a maverick. But I agree w/ the 21 March 2010 PublicEyeOnline panel - this isn't a solution to the real problem, which is acce$$ to justice.

Talk about missing the boat. I think the "disconnect" has nothing to do with whether or not the public can see what is going on in the courtrooms of the province. I believe it seems from factors such as:

- the length of time before a case gets to trial (e.g. raid on the legislature regarding the sale of BC Rail, John Les' troubles);

- the head scratching decisions made by the Crown with regards to whether the proceed with charges and/or what charges are laid (e.g. RCMP member Monty Robinson only being charged with obstruction of justice when to most people it appears that he should also be charged with DUI and other charges related to him allegedly causing an MVA that killed that young motorcyclist in Delta); and,

- the perception that the sentences handed out are far too lenient.

As I tell my friends, we do not have a "justice" system, we have a "legal" system and they are not the same.

The above is exacerbated by concerns with regards to the issue of police investigating themselves when police officers are accused of inappropriate actions.

Honestly, in this environment I think there are better things the province should be spending its money on, especially since it does not appear that they are going to be doing anything (i.e. no more surveys) to assess the effectiveness of this program to address the "disconnect".

It would be easy to televise the BC Rail Trial ...

BC Supreme Courtroom #20 was already thoroughly outfitted with cameras etc. for the Air India Trial.

Case #23299 - HMTQ vs. Basi, Virk, Basi offers the ideal opportunity to show that justice may be seen to be done in our province.

Every B.C. citizen (former owners of BC Rail) should be able to watch and hear the proceedings no matter where they live in B.C.

I hope that many people will remind Mr De Jong that he needs only to issue the command, to switch the cameras ON for May 3, 2010.

Most trials would garner a viewership of none. The odd high profile trial may attract a bevy of viewers, but overall this would be a waste of taxpayers dollars.

This will do nothing to assuage those of us that think our legal system is too lenient on those that are convicted of major crimes. And it certainly will do nothing to enlighten us on why certain crimes get pleaded down to nothing more than a misdemeanor. Nor will it shed light as to why Crown Counsel decides that they will not proceed with charges the public deems chargeable.

This idea must be considered nothing more than a diversion tactic to deflect attention from some other issue. I haven't been able to identify it yet, but it definitely fits with their modus operandi.

Whether trials are televised or not is a minor issue beside the ones that need repair. Two of those are public accountability and costs. Comments here already provide detail.

Even more basic, we could review the present adversarial system. The Chief Justice of Ontario said in an address:
"Adversarial justice is not always real justice, as
certain… disputes [notably family disputes] demonstrate;”

But with lawyers in charge of justice administration, I don't expect any changes beyond cosmetic ones. Television is a subject that everyone can have an opinion about but little would change whether de Jong does or does not turn on cameras already installed.

The Attorney General even posing the issue as important is like the municipal district where I live having a public hearing for a real estate development after the engineering departments had already spent hugely on roadway changes to accommodate the development. The decisions were already made, the process was simply public relations.

Public Eye has been on target with Attorney General issues. That was confirmed as I relied on some older articles here for my discussion:

http://northerninsights.blogspot.com/2010/03/justice-is-blind-to-abuses.html

"very concerned about what I see is a growing disconnect between the justice system and the people."

This is true.

One way I'd like to see this resolved is to make trial transcripts available to anyone - not just people who can afford to shell out hundreds if not thousands of dollars to read public documents.

Hell, even the FOI process will waive fees. Not the attorney general though.

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