Anna Mehler Paperny
From Saturday's Globe and Mail Published on Friday, Jun. 25, 2010
Having the public in the courtroom would be a security risk, court staff say. But several lawyers argue refusing the public entry undermines basic principles of an open-court system.
A “multiple-accused, high security” courtroom on Finch Avenue in Toronto’s northwest has been designated as a remand court for G20-related charges.
Reporters covering the appearance of Toronto artist Kristen Peterson, who is charged with possessing explosives and dangerous weapons, weren’t allowed into the courtroom where she appeared briefly before being remanded to police custody. Instead, they were obliged to watch via video-feed from an adjoining room, where they couldn’t see the accused or hear much of what was said.
“The decision to restrict access to the limited seating was made by the judiciary on the advice of court security staff,” said Valerie Hopper, a spokeswoman for the Ontario Attorney-General’s office. “This was not requested by the Crown.”
Court staff are working to improve that for the Saturday bail hearing of Ms. Peterson and her husband Byron Sonne, setting up a second camera that will focus on the accused and allow courtroom artists to do their sketches.
But that’s not good enough, argues Toronto-based criminal lawyer Gerald Chan. “The presumption is the courts are public, and anyone who wants to close the courtroom has to satisfy a very high burden to show it’s necessary.… It seems to me a bit too reactionary.”
“There doesn’t seem to be a good reason to have reporters excluded from the courtroom and be subjected only to a video and audio feed, which has proven to be faulty in the past,” said Globe and Mail lawyer Peter Jacobsen.
“Our open-court system requires as much transparency as possible, and this intrusion on the media’s constitutional rights does not appear to be justified.”
But York University lawyer Alan Young said making the public watch from an adjoining room isn’t all that unreasonable. What’s more worrisome, he said, is that authorities are anticipating such a glut of G20-related charges that they’ve set a special courtroom aside to deal with all of them.
“It concerns me they think there’ll be so many people they’re bringing in,” he said. “It’s sort of an overzealous approach.… It seems they’re trying to send a message.”
With a report from Kirk Makin
The Ontario Government over the last 20 years has slowly increased the
difficulties in attending public court rooms.
In many courts, "security measures" included massive glass screens that make it impossible to hear what is going on and to project an image that the government is right and the accused are guilty.
Increasingly, any politically incorrect accused is taken to the most in accessible court room in the building for a hearing.
What makes it worse is that Judges are increasingly receiving courses in "court room control", that means, abusing the rights of litigants, the rights of accused, and abusing those they don't like by abusing their judicial powers.
The average Canadian has no comprehension of just how bad our courts are or the vile corrupt nature of what what are called "The underbelly of the Judiciary".
While the corrupt Provincial Court Judge Richard Lajoie was in Timmins, massive changes occurred to the main court room that reduced its accessibility to the public and left only very limited seats where any member of the press could observe what was going on, let alone anyone else.
Timmins is just an example of what has happened across Ontario court rooms.
In many Ontario court rooms, you are not permitted to take in a lap top, you are limited to writing with a pen and paper, to make it is as difficult as possible for anyone to take notes of proceedings.
Other more insidious measures are also taken that send a message that the Rule of Law is to be abused and the charter of rights and freedoms is a very sick joke.
Judges like Richard Lajoie who are hated by the legal profession from one end of Ontario to the other, get rewarded for their abuses by appointments to plumb locations like Ottawa where Lajoie continues to leave a trail of destruction not mention hatred and a bringing of ill-repute to the rest of the judiciary that are not so ethically and morally challenged.
The government while portraying itself as the protectors of property from
domestic terrorists has done a hell of a job inciting hatred towards the
Government's flagrant abuse of Rule of Law and Democratic rights.
The Police have chronically abused their powers to put out of action anyone they thought was a lead protester and they did it with a habit that the Ontario Police Forces have done for decades, and that's to invent charges for the sole purpose of locking em away for 20 or more hours till it was all over and making sure everyone arrested will be intimidated against protesting or even being near a protest in the future.
No one condones the destruction of property but the actions of the Toronto Police were specifically designed to provoke and abuse.
It's another sad symptom of the Canadian spiral dive of the rule of law and democratic rights.