Judge, camera, action

by Paul Maharg on 16/04/2014

Couldn’t blog the paper entitled Making Schools Responsible for Cyberbullying — UEA connection went down…

This session, the last but one legal education paper, is Michael Bromby (MB) — subtitled, Legal education and the regulation of recording and broadcasting proceedings in court.  Context was the Judicial Office for Scotland Review, 2013, and administration of Justice v Open Justice.  MB looked at live transmission, news broadcast, documentary programme, and live text-based comms.  Past experience of this included sentencing of David Gilroy, now on YouTube.  MB showed the clip and analysed it.  He also compared with Pistorius trial — live streaming, 30 sec delay, accompanying comment, footage, evidence.  22,000 tweets on the Monday morning period, 49,000 on the OscarPistorius hashtag.  Alex Crawford of Sky tweets every minute in the courtroom…

What is the role of broadcasting MB asked?  L-P Gill — justice ‘can be conceived as including public education on the legal system and the operation of the courts’.  Risks — opportunity for live coaching — New Zealand has a 10 min delay, unfair influence on witnesses.  Identification of witnesses and jurors (person and computerised conditions of software  (possible links to social media). Selective filming of trials — rewind to challenge live decisions, cf sport, appeals based on later analysis of the footage.  Fisking the materials — dangerous re the trial, but actually useful re education.  Misuses of material, eg as advertising for legal services.  Discrepancies between recording and transcript.

Educational benefits — authentic materials — avoids the need to create expensive sims, lists of modern cases & examples; derivative works with expert commentary, pauses, comments, etc.  Education-only recordings – ? Fewer issues with consent, production editing to blur voice, image; expert witness training — extension of legal education to other disciplines, etc.  Public legal education is key, eg debunking the myths of Silk, etc.  Also — scrutiny of the judiciary: unfair to lay justices?  threat to judicial independence?

Comparative experiences?  In Germany, ban on cameras in court, no equivalent to jury, less oral evidence presented.  In New Zealand, access is permitted, subject to restrictions.  He concluded there are clear benefits for legal education, but does this outweigh the risks for cameras in court.  Should, or more correctly, can ‘open justice’ be more open?  Good paper. I asked has anyone done this before?  Also — valuable discussion of Twitter in this context —  someone said that Twitter cdn’t be used in this context, I disagreed, citing BBC sports page, the live updates on football matches, eg, the GOAL icon.  The uses for live legal education events of that sort of immediacy or nearly immediate comment — Stephen Heppell’s nearly now — are just so many and useful.  And unlike the footie update, which will include only a few selected comment from supporters, there’s just so much more context and comment available from a group, a class, a course, or the whole Twitterverse.  Good paper, lots of interesting ideas.

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