Lights, camera . . . no action
There won't be any video cameras rolling in B.C. courtrooms any time soon.
Attorney-General Barry Penner has announced he is shelving a pilot project that would have seen cameras installed in courtrooms in Kamloops, Vancouver and Victoria.
Penner's decision comes after resistance to the idea from judges in B.C., who are concerned the presence of cameras could negatively affect witness testimony and possibly result in courtroom grandstanding.
The project, announced by then-attorney general Mike de Jong during a visit to KTW in November, would have seen provincial court sentencing hearings broadcast on the Internet.
The program as it was intended was far from open, with rules governing who could be shown — no lawyers or witnesses, only the judge.
Also, the judge would have had the final say as to whether his or her sentence was to be broadcast.
According to a request for proposals issued by the provincial government in October, the project was slated to have begun as early as December.
But it never did.
Cameras can still be allowed in certain courtrooms, though, providing the presiding judge gives the OK.
Earlier this year, a judge allowed closing submissions in a polygamy trial in B.C. Supreme Court in Vancouver to be webcast. Those submissions are slated to wrap up next week.
Many provincial courtrooms in B.C. are already wired for video — at least for the judge's bench — and used to speak to matters involving prisoners who are appearing in court from jails across the province and the country.
Last year, the province said it hoped the introduction of courtroom broadcasting would enhance the public's access to the justice system.