Criticism of why cameras cannot work in Courts is rampant, but it invariably comes from the those most involved in the proceedings, rather than society as a whole who seeks to benefit from understanding. However, these explanations, in my view, are self-serving and protective of the very issues society ought to expose in order to enhance and improve upon.
If anything, cameras in courts will actually regulate those directly involved in the process to themselves hold themselves to a higher standard of public accountability.
Sky-falling claims of witness’ safety protection, witness exclusion order violations, grandstanding of lawyers or witnesses are wildly speculative at best; completely false most likely.
We have seen first-hand through other jurisdictions that cameras in Courts can and do work. Perhaps one of the most telling examples of how cameras in court serves a valuable and effective catharsis for society in seeking justice was the case of Oscar Pistorius. The same can be said for Michael Jackson, O.J. Simpson, and many others.
Whether people agreed or disagreed with the results on those cases, at least there was informed and meaningful debate about what happened. Serious and informed discussions were had on domestic violence, expert evidence, racism in policing, and the value of thorough cross-examination.
Can the same be said in any of Canadian cases? We may all like to believe we have an understanding but the truth of the matter is that we, as Canadians, probably have a better understanding of the U.S. justice system than our very own. Does anyone really know what happened in the cases of Robert Pickton? Russell Williams? The Jane Creba shooting? The James Forcillo trial?
Can any Canadians, other than those in attendance, make a fair judgment against Mr. Ghomeshi or against his accusers? Yes judgment on social media is ubiquitous, but it is not judgment made within echo chambers of media coverage?
Further criticisms that courts are open and people can attend if they wish is deliberately naive. Anyone knows that such a limitation makes Canadian courts accessible only to lawyers, judges, the unoccupied, and tourists. To expect Canadians to take time off work, school, or other obligations in order to better understand a system we all have an interest in appreciating is beyond naive – it’s offensive. We, as Canadians, have a right to know how our Courts work an deliver justice as much as any other right we share.
Suggesting that Canadians’ open court rights are met because they can attend personally is like saying they can vote if they attend Ottawa to do so (Monday to Friday, for three days, between the hours of 10:00-4:30 with lunch and breaks in between).