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 Disconnected From Our Courts

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PostSubject: Disconnected From Our Courts   Sun Apr 13, 2008 8:56 pm

I wonder how many of my fellow citizens of Machine Nation have ever visited the inside of a Courtroom without having been compelled to do so?

It's my belief that most folks have never visited a Court session of their own volition, or that if they have, that it was in support of a friend or a loved one. Don't get me wrong, I'm not offering a criticism here; I have a genuine interest in the subject.

Article 34.1 of Bunreacht Na hÉireann states:

Justice shall be administered in courts established by law by judges appointed in the manner provided by this Constitution, and, save in such special and limited cases as may be prescribed by law, shall be administered in public.
"Shall be administered in public:" what does this mean?

Its typical meaning is that our Courts, except in special circumstances like child custody and rape cases, must be held in a place where members of the public may watch. What about the not so typical meaning, that would suggest that the Justice Department should ensure that the dispensing of Justice be witnessed by the public in such a way that it is brought to the public attention, rather than the public having to seek it out (in other words, to hold these sessions in a place where the public will watch)? Afterall, doesn't the old maxim state that: Justice must be seen, to be done.

Why are Court cases not televised for example? And I don't mean on RTE, or any other commercial venture, where revenue would be generated by advertising etc. I mean on a dedicated advertising-free medium. I wonder how many would take some level of interest in the dispensing of justice, if it were a matter of pushing a button on a remote control. And indeed I wonder, that if this were possible, if it would be described as progress.

Did you know for example, that you are not allowed to record a Court case? It's one of their rules. I wonder did you know that there's no law that forbids this however? Surely to record such an event is to potentially bring the Court session into the public, just like Bunreacht orders? By record, I mean to make an audio or a video recording.

How about Article 10 of ECHR (European Convention on Human Rights), which states:

  1. Everyone has the right to freedom of expression. this right shall include freedom to hold opinions and to receive and impartinformation and ideas without interference by public authority and
    regardless of frontiers. This article shall not prevent States from requiring the licensing of broadcasting, television or cinema enterprises.

  2. The exercise of these freedoms, since it carries with it duties and responsibilities, may be subject to such formalities, conditions, restrictions or penalties as are prescribed by law and are necessary in a democratic society, in the interests of national security, territorial integrity or public safety, for the prevention of disorder or crime, for the protection of health or
    morals, for the protection of the reputation or the rights of others, for preventing the disclosure of information received in confidence, or for maintaining the authority and impartiality of
    the judiciary.

According to section 1. above, I should be allowed to receive and impart information without interference by public authority. Surely this in itself suggests that Court sessions could be broadcast and that the Court rule prohibiting such an act is unlawful? I know that at the end of the second section of this article it suggests that the freedom to receive and impart information may be limited to maintain the authority and the impartiality of the judiciary. I suggest that this has no bearing with regard to transmitting Court sessions. Afterall, I'd be well within my rights to go into a Court and write down, word for word, everything that went on in the Court and then to publish it in the public domain (though I was at one point dragged by two Gardaí from a Courtroom, that wasn't having a session in camera, on the orders of a Judge, for producing a notebook and pen - but that's a whole new story).

Surely the act of arguing against such a proposal is to argue against the Courts being heard in public.

This is the first post I'm making in what I hope will be an extensive list of such postings that examines our Courts and whether or not they function as they are supposed to. Feel free to pose questions, opinions, information and criticisms.
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PostSubject: Re: Disconnected From Our Courts   Sun Apr 13, 2008 10:08 pm

The AGSI proposed broadcasting the court sessions when they met recently. Will it not go ahead?

Thread here
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PostSubject: Re: Disconnected From Our Courts   Sun Apr 13, 2008 11:05 pm

Auditor #9 wrote:
The AGSI proposed broadcasting the court sessions when they met recently. Will it not go ahead?

I think the proposal is a piece of propaganda, rather than a serious effort to redress deficiencies within our Justice system. In my honest opinion, having witnessed many high profile trials, I reckon that it would not be in the best interests of the Gardaí to have these trials televised. However, if they were sure that their proposal was going to be sidelined or indeed that a similar approach was coming down the tracks, they could get some positive publicity by issuing such a statement.

I don't for a moment agree that high profile cases should be screened unless all other cases (especially those that occur in the District Court) be screened also.

Interestingly enough, there is a blueprint that is currently underway, whereby the Courts will be electronically recorded and transcripts will be possible for all cases (currently, it's very rare to see a stenographer in a District Court). There is no intention, to the best of my knowledge, to broadcast or make public, these recordings.

Here's a quote from a piece I wrote back in 2006:

In 2002 there were 18 people doing a sentence of 10 or more years but
less than life and there were 13 prisoners doing life. Remember at this
point that not all these prisoners are in for murder. That’s 31
prisoners out of a prison population that averages 3481 on any given
day once one adds back in the 282 prisoners on temporary release at any
given day.
http://www.indymedia.ie/article/75087

From this it's quite fair to say that there are either not that many high profile cases or that there are not that many convictions in high profile cases. There are not that many of them, despite the obvious need for many. Screen what does get into the Courts however with regard to high profile cases, and it looks like the Gardaí are doing a great job, ever before one sees their performance. Couple this with the idea that most trials of this nature are long and boring; most would probably not watch the whole affair. Watching the highlights however, could give rise to some very false assumptions. Any such move to televise Court cases would have to be well considered and the responsibility for doing so would have to be given to a body independent of both the Justice system and the Gardaí. Having said that, I'd still be massively in favour of televising.
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PostSubject: Re: Disconnected From Our Courts   Sun Apr 13, 2008 11:24 pm

The whole court proceedings would have to be televised surely because as you say anything less would lead to false assumptions. You are saying that even though we are not allowed to film or record the proceedings there is no law restricting it .. it would be unconstitutional to restrict it ... constitutional inconsistencies, no?

What effect do you feel it would have if court proceedings were allowed to be broadcast? I'm thinking of Limerick feuding a bit recently (isn't eamon ryan .. or is that local council sessions..?)
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PostSubject: Re: Disconnected From Our Courts   Sun Apr 13, 2008 11:50 pm

Auditor #9 wrote:
The whole court proceedings would have to be televised surely because
as you say anything less would lead to false assumptions. You are
saying that even though we are not allowed to film or record the
proceedings there is no law restricting it .. it would be
unconstitutional to restrict it ... constitutional inconsistencies, no?

Spot on.

Yup, in my opinion it's unconstitutional to restrict the recording of sessions. It is done nonetheless. The Four Courts for example has signs all over the shop prohibiting it.

Auditor #9 wrote:
What effect do you feel it would have if court proceedings were allowed
to be broadcast? I'm thinking of Limerick feuding a bit recently (isn't
eamon ryan .. or is that local council sessions..?)

The effects would be many.

Positives.
i. The general population would learn more about the law and their rights and duties.
ii. The general public could develop an informed opinion on whether our Courts were functional and value for money.
iii. It would encourage Judges to try harder and to behave less like tyrants (a lot of them do).
iv. The Gardaí would be encouraged to follow the letter of the law and become more efficient.
v. Criminals, who act the 'hard man' and have vicious reputations, would be witnessed to be cowering little scumbags. This would re-empower communities that live in fear of these people.
vi. Citizens would become better witness material and thus conviction rates would rise along with the soundness rating of convictions.

Negatives.
i. Criminals too would be more educated, especially with regard to technicalities.
ii. Suspects would be less likely to plead guilty in return for lighter sentences, due to being seen as dirtbags by the general public (I can't decide whether this is really a negative or not).
iii. When people see the state of the whole process there will be outrage and it'll cost an arm and a leg to fix it. I'd readily compare our justice system to the Health Department. (Tis hard to call this one a negative too, if one looks at the long term picture.)

There are many other possibilities, most of which are related in some way to those above.
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PostSubject: Re: Disconnected From Our Courts   Mon Apr 14, 2008 12:18 am

Hermes wrote:
iii. It would encourage Judges to try harder and to behave less like tyrants (a lot of them do).
iv. The Gardaí would be encouraged to follow the letter of the law and become more efficient.
Good list of pros and cons there - as you saw we didn't get far at all on the other thread..

The points above are very very interesting... Certain cases are very high profile - are judges handpicked and the selection tailored to suit the media who are there in droves.. More and more local media are attending the courts now too - I regularly see reports of the courts in the Clare People for example.. this gives readers some jargon-busting experience at least..
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PostSubject: Re: Disconnected From Our Courts   Mon Apr 14, 2008 12:50 am

Hermes wrote:
Auditor #9 wrote:
The whole court proceedings would have to be televised surely because
as you say anything less would lead to false assumptions. You are
saying that even though we are not allowed to film or record the
proceedings there is no law restricting it .. it would be
unconstitutional to restrict it ... constitutional inconsistencies, no?

Spot on.

Yup, in my opinion it's unconstitutional to restrict the recording of sessions. It is done nonetheless. The Four Courts for example has signs all over the shop prohibiting it.

Auditor #9 wrote:
What effect do you feel it would have if court proceedings were allowed
to be broadcast? I'm thinking of Limerick feuding a bit recently (isn't
eamon ryan .. or is that local council sessions..?)

The effects would be many.

Positives.
i. The general population would learn more about the law and their rights and duties.
ii. The general public could develop an informed opinion on whether our Courts were functional and value for money.
iii. It would encourage Judges to try harder and to behave less like tyrants (a lot of them do).
iv. The Gardaí would be encouraged to follow the letter of the law and become more efficient.
v. Criminals, who act the 'hard man' and have vicious reputations, would be witnessed to be cowering little scumbags. This would re-empower communities that live in fear of these people.
vi. Citizens would become better witness material and thus conviction rates would rise along with the soundness rating of convictions.

Negatives.
i. Criminals too would be more educated, especially with regard to technicalities.
ii. Suspects would be less likely to plead guilty in return for lighter sentences, due to being seen as dirtbags by the general public (I can't decide whether this is really a negative or not).
iii. When people see the state of the whole process there will be outrage and it'll cost an arm and a leg to fix it. I'd readily compare our justice system to the Health Department. (Tis hard to call this one a negative too, if one looks at the long term picture.)

There are many other possibilities, most of which are related in some way to those above.

That is an interesting post Hermes. I have had occasion to visit the courts for the purpose of acting as an expert witness a number of times, and a person who forgot to pay her car tax (once). Sitting in the court and watching a succession of cases, one is impressed with the lack of accountability of the judiciary, who appear at times free to make decisions without reference to evidence, or at times the need for sobriety.

Extraordinary scenes of verbal diatribes against legal representives are not uncommon. There are some impressive judges who behave themselves well, but I have seen a judge tell parties, after hearing the evidence of one side, to tell the parties to go away and settle because they don't need to hear any more. Do judges have to have regard to evidence and case law, or do they, rather as town planners, tend to make it up as they go along? Does anyone monitor their performance?
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PostSubject: Re: Disconnected From Our Courts   Mon Apr 14, 2008 12:59 am

Thanks for this, Hermes - I'm delighted that we've got someone here interested in the courts. I was going to start a thread on the topic myself but thought it might be kind of lonely.

I spend quite a bit of time in the courts - circuit and district and what strikes me most at the moment is the difference in judges, both between districts and among the replacements who pop in from time to time.

I have come across one outstanding district court judge - outstanding because he is polite (Lord that counts for a lot), fair in his treatment of those before the courts, absolutely consistent in his application of the law and more than any of that, what really impresses me is the dedication with which he follows up on cases and the progress of perpetrators. I admire him greatly as a person and as an administrator of justice.

I wish I could say the same for other judges. While most are decent, there's one I regularly come across in another district who is a tyrant and a bully who makes the most cruel, offensive and unnecessary comments to offenders, their families and the Gardaí.

Is there a code of conduct for judges? I was wondering about this today.
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PostSubject: Re: Disconnected From Our Courts   Tue Apr 22, 2008 10:42 pm

Kate P wrote:

Is there a code of conduct for judges? I was wondering about this today.

Not as of now, I believe. However, I think something along those lines is in the pipeline, as is a judicial council to try and improve consistency amongst the judiciary.

As for the original question - I would be opposed to the televising of court proceedings. I would be worried that there would be a shift towards Johnny Cochrane-type grandstanding and showing off from lawyers and also witnesses. Plenty of political old-timers say that the standard of debates in the Dail degenerated after the bringing in of television cameras. While overall TV is necessary in parliament, I don't see such an imperative in the courtroom.

And let's be honest about what sort of proceedings would be televised. I'm a lawyer and I find a lot of court proceedings to be eye-wateringly tedious. I doubt ordinary members of the public will have any interest in following technical arguments regarding admissability of evidence and the like. Even many substantive issues are of little interest to most people who aren't directly involved. There would be a heavy bias towards invasive and prurient coverage of the most gruesome/shocking/outrageous criminal cases. What good would that do democracy or the functioning of justice?
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PostSubject: Re: Disconnected From Our Courts   Tue Apr 22, 2008 11:11 pm

radicalcleric wrote:
Kate P wrote:

Is there a code of conduct for judges? I was wondering about this today.

Not as of now, I believe. However, I think something along those lines is in the pipeline, as is a judicial council to try and improve consistency amongst the judiciary.

As for the original question - I would be opposed to the televising of court proceedings. I would be worried that there would be a shift towards Johnny Cochrane-type grandstanding and showing off from lawyers and also witnesses. Plenty of political old-timers say that the standard of debates in the Dail degenerated after the bringing in of television cameras. While overall TV is necessary in parliament, I don't see such an imperative in the courtroom.

And let's be honest about what sort of proceedings would be televised. I'm a lawyer and I find a lot of court proceedings to be eye-wateringly tedious. I doubt ordinary members of the public will have any interest in following technical arguments regarding admissability of evidence and the like. Even many substantive issues are of little interest to most people who aren't directly involved. There would be a heavy bias towards invasive and prurient coverage of the most gruesome/shocking/outrageous criminal cases. What good would that do democracy or the functioning of justice?

I have a lot of sympathy with what you say, radicalcleric, but doesn't everything you describe happen already in the Press? In my opinion the use of sensational pseudonyms such as Scissor Sisters and Black Widow, which epitomises the sickness of press court reporting, should be banned during trials. The merit of televising (provided the whole unedited proceedings are shown) is precisely that the boring, tedious and technical bits (if indeed they are that) dilute the potential for sick sensationalism. Televising, unedited, would allow us to judge for ourselves.
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PostSubject: Re: Disconnected From Our Courts   Tue Apr 22, 2008 11:23 pm

cactus flower wrote:

I have a lot of sympathy with what you say, radicalcleric, but doesn't everything you describe happen already in the Press? In my opinion the use of sensational pseudonyms such as Scissor Sisters and Black Widow, which epitomises the sickness of press court reporting, should be banned during trials. The merit of televising (provided the whole unedited proceedings are shown) is precisely that the boring, tedious and technical bits (if indeed they are that) dilute the potential for sick sensationalism. Televising, unedited, would allow us to judge for ourselves.

It does happen to a large extent, and I agree that a lot of the coverage of criminal proceedings (not in the court reports themselves, but in the news reports) is distasteful at best. If it was possible to show only the whole unedited proceedings, I might agree with televising them. But that's simply not practical. Even if you could find some TV station that was willing to show everything live, the 'highlights' would still be cut out and shown on the news and other programs, and that's what everyone would focus on. There would be an obsession about how X appeared when Y said Z, how the witnesses spoke/dressed/looked etc. It would insert even more emotionalism into something that is meant to be a coldly clinical process.

Also, on a more narrow basis, I feel that, as it is, too many people become lawyers for the 'wrong' reasons. If being a barrister became a guaranteed way to get regularly on the TV, I'd worry that the profession would attract the sort of publicity-seekers who are much more interested in self-promotion than quaint notions of upholding justice (whatever that means)
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PostSubject: Re: Disconnected From Our Courts   Tue Apr 22, 2008 11:25 pm

I all but forgot about this thread. Old age is not being kind to me.

Welcome on board radicalcleric.

I disagree with you, but I hope we'll not fall out over it. If it were a requirement that we all agreed, there'd be no need for a forum such as this. Or indeed the courts.

I wouldn't consider this theme of grandstanding to be a very apt description. If it is examined in relative terms, it does happen (and moreso it would be magnified if cases were broadcast). I wouldn't consider this to say something favourable about the ability of the person grandstanding though, I think it would moreso point to the lack of ability in this person's opponent.

The way I see it we have a few very gifted legal practitioners. We also have a small amount of somewhat competent practitioners. The rest, in my opinion, are quite useless (I'm being harsh, but it's the way I actually see it). The effect of grandstanding would be a consequence of the good and the alright running circles around the incompetents.

Maybe I'm being somewhat severe. Afterall, a considerable amount of legal professionals, meet their clients for the first time a few minutes before the case they are to defend is called. Maybe it's not incompetence, maybe it's that they are unaware of the ins and outs of the case before they fight it. I understand the first sitting usually only sets a hearing date, but it would still be true to suggest that the time spent learning of the client's defence is minimal. I'd also suggest that this becomes very much more apparent as one travels to the lower courts and views the treatment of poorer alleged criminals. I'd be so bold to say that if this became very obvious via cases being broadcast, it would change, and for the better.

In fairness, regardless as to whether my version of grandstanding is apt or whether your one is, and indeed whether witness grandstanding happens or not is quite unimportant, so long as the truth is brought forth. I believe broadcasting would highlight something I believe to be a common practice in Irish courtrooms: that the truth is often buried in the red tape machine and takes up a secondary importance, if any.

There is a code of conduct for Judges, but it is unenforceable unless one considers the wrist slapping actions of a Judicial Review to be credible enforcement (I don't). This code of conduct is supplied via the constitution at Article 34.5:

34.5. 1° Every person appointed a judge under this Constitution shall make and subscribe the following declaration:
"In the presence of Almighty God I, , do solemnly and sincerely promise and declare that I will duly and faithfully and to the best of my knowledge and power execute the office of Chief Justice (or as the case may be) without fear or favour, affection or ill-will towards any man, and that I will uphold the Constitution and the laws. May God direct and sustain me."
2° This declaration shall be made and subscribed by the Chief Justice in the presence of the President, and by each of the other judges of the Supreme Court, the judges of the High Court and the judges of every other Court in the presence of the Chief Justice or the senior available judge of the Supreme Court in open court.
3° The declaration shall be made and subscribed by every judge before entering upon his duties as such judge, and in any case not later than ten days after the date of his appointment or such later date as may be determined by the President.
4° Any judge who declines or neglects to make such declaration as aforesaid shall be deemed to have vacated his office.
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PostSubject: Re: Disconnected From Our Courts   Wed Apr 23, 2008 12:20 am

Hello radicalcleric - and welcome.

Quote :
As for the original question - I would be opposed to the televising of court proceedings. I would be worried that there would be a shift towards Johnny Cochrane-type grandstanding and showing off from lawyers and also witnesses.

Hmm. Don't you think there's an element of showmanship written into the job description? Every case is a performance in which the solicitor or barrister must engage in an elaborate pas de deux with the judge and certainly in cases where there is a jury present, barrister will use every skill up his sleeve to achieve his aim. That's his job and it depends more than most on the combination of style and substance.

A witness who is a natural show-off will be a show-off with or without cameras; will flirt with the judge, the Gardaí and throw a smile at the press box. I'd venture that most witnesses would be happier without the cameras anyway because they have often been unwittingly involved in an incident and dread any kind of press coverage.

Perhaps a more sound reason for not having the live coverage of trials is that it might discourage witnesses from coming forward in serious cases because of the notoriety they might consider to be an inevitable consequence.



Quote :
I'm a lawyer and I find a lot of court proceedings to be eye-wateringly tedious. I doubt ordinary members of the public will have any interest in following technical arguments regarding admissability of evidence and the like. Even many substantive issues are of little interest to most people who aren't directly involved. There would be a heavy bias towards invasive and prurient coverage of the most gruesome/shocking/outrageous criminal cases. What good would that do democracy or the functioning of justice?

I think you do the general public a disservice there - certainly you seem to assume an unwillingness to learn on their part and a reluctance to engage. Many people would like to know how courts work, what the technicalities are.

The press already shows an interest in a particular kind of case - whether it's animal cruelty in the district court (I recently attended a case where there were two tv stations and a number of journalists from or on behalf of the national press who had no interest in anything but one particular case) or a murder trial at the CCC. This is life in general and press coverage of the courts is no different to press coverage of any other forum. There is a particular kind of case which grabs the eye of the reader/viewer. Televising proceedings will only telegraph that slightly and not in all cases.
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PostSubject: Re: Disconnected From Our Courts   Wed Apr 23, 2008 1:31 am

Hermes wrote:


The way I see it we have a few very gifted legal practitioners. We also have a small amount of somewhat competent practitioners. The rest, in my opinion, are quite useless (I'm being harsh, but it's the way I actually see it). The effect of grandstanding would be a consequence of the good and the alright running circles around the incompetents.


I think you are being somewhat harsh, but perhaps the increasing numbers at the Bar will raise standards.

Kate P wrote:
Hmm. Don't you think there's an element of showmanship written into the job description? Every case is a performance in which the solicitor or barrister must engage in an elaborate pas de deux with the judge and certainly in cases where there is a jury present, barrister will use every skill up his sleeve to achieve his aim. That's his job and it depends more than most on the combination of style and substance.

Of course there is an element of it, and that's not a bad thing. But as I'm sure you're aware the average court performance is very different from what you'd see in American TV dramas. The point is, the barrister's duty is to his client solely, and everything he does, and how he does it, should be geared to what is best for the client. My worry would be that some might start concerning themselves more with self-promotion and aggrandisation than the more mundane reality that the Courts requires.

Kate P wrote:
Perhaps a more sound reason for not having the live coverage of trials is that it might discourage witnesses from coming forward in serious cases because of the notoriety they might consider to be an inevitable consequence.

That's true. However, I think you're a bit too dismissive of the likelihood of extra show-boating from some witnesses. Also, perhaps some witnesses who are called in gangland type cases and the likes would probably love the extra noteriety and fame that television would give them, and I don't know if we should be encouraging that.

More fundamentally, most court proceedings, and especially criminal ones, are traumatic for the parties involved. The level of voyeurism is high enough as it is now with just the print media allowed into hearing - I would be concerned that the private grief of victims and their families would suffer much greater intrusion if TV was involved, and I don't think the pay-off in terms of more people seeing what is going on balances that.

Kate P wrote:
I think you do the general public a disservice there - certainly you seem to assume an unwillingness to learn on their part and a reluctance to engage. Many people would like to know how courts work, what the technicalities are.

I don't mean to do anyone a disservice, and I certainly don't intend to sound condescending. What I said wasn't meant as a criticism - I don't see why people should try and bother themselves with the arcane and somewhat onanistic legal obsession with rules and procedure. Of course some will be interested in the mechanistics, and good for them. But I really doubt it would be more than a small minority. Oireachtas Report gets tiny ratings (drunks and insomniacs) and what goes on in Leinster House is (arguably) of much greater interest and relevance to the average member of the public than your standard court proceedings.
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PostSubject: Re: Disconnected From Our Courts   Wed Apr 23, 2008 4:09 pm

Quote :
Of course there is an element of it, and that's not a bad thing. But as I'm sure you're aware the average court performance is very different from what you'd see in American TV dramas. The point is, the barrister's duty is to his client solely, and everything he does, and how he does it, should be geared to what is best for the client. My worry would be that some might start concerning themselves more with self-promotion and aggrandisation than the more mundane reality that the Courts requires.

I agree that the average court performance is very different, but I'd also say that the barrister's duty will still be to his client and the degree to which he is committed to that duty will be publicly seen if trials are televised.

I don't know if it's the job of legislation to legislate or not simply because of fears of self-aggrandization or self-promotion. Once the job is done well and effectively, that, surely, is the main point.

Quote :
That's true. However, I think you're a bit too dismissive of the likelihood of extra show-boating from some witnesses. Also, perhaps some witnesses who are called in gangland type cases and the likes would probably love the extra noteriety and fame that television would give them, and I don't know if we should be encouraging that.

In my experience judges are pretty intolerant of show-boating as you describe it and while it may be entertaining in the moment, it's certainly grows tedious.

There are a small minority of gangland cases that make it before the courts. Most murder trials don't involve gangland criminals. Is that a reason to keep all other murder trials out of the courts.

I feel privileged to see all human life in the courts and think that if others had the same opportunity their understanding of human life might be very different. There might be less superficial talk of scumbags and more depth of analysis of the issues behind crime. I am one of the minority as you describe it, who really enjoy the technical discussion of points of law.

Quote :
The level of voyeurism is high enough as it is now with just the print media allowed into hearing - I would be concerned that the private grief of victims and their families would suffer much greater intrusion if TV was involved, and I don't think the pay-off in terms of more people seeing what is going on balances that.

If a district court judge holds court in his front sitting room, the press are entitled to be there. The press are allowed access to trials that the general public cannot attend. Members of press sit in on juvenile and sexual abuse cases and report (with restrictions) on the proceedings.

Why do you think this is?
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PostSubject: Re: Disconnected From Our Courts   Wed Apr 23, 2008 9:07 pm

Kate P wrote:


Quote :
The level of voyeurism is high enough as it is now with just the print media allowed into hearing - I would be concerned that the private grief of victims and their families would suffer much greater intrusion if TV was involved, and I don't think the pay-off in terms of more people seeing what is going on balances that.

If a district court judge holds court in his front sitting room, the press are entitled to be there. The press are allowed access to trials that the general public cannot attend. Members of press sit in on juvenile and sexual abuse cases and report (with restrictions) on the proceedings.

Why do you think this is?

I know why it is and I agree that it is necessary. But you're still ignoring the point that I'm making - that bringing in TV would unbalance the scales between necessary reporting and intrusive voyeurism. Surely you're not suggesting that there's no difference in impact between visual and print media?
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PostSubject: Re: Disconnected From Our Courts   Wed Apr 23, 2008 9:12 pm

I'm not suggesting for a moment that there's no difference between visual and print media.

A visual medium - like tv - allows the punter to make up his own mind, see events as they happen in context and see events unfold through his own eyes. The viewer has considerably more to go on than the 450-800 words the average court report gets in a daily paper.

Surely you're not suggesting that televising court cases is necessarily and automatically intrusive voyeurism?
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PostSubject: Re: Disconnected From Our Courts   Wed Apr 23, 2008 9:16 pm

Kate P wrote:
I'm not suggesting for a moment that there's no difference between visual and print media.

A visual medium - like tv - allows the punter to make up his own mind, see events as they happen in context and see events unfold through his own eyes. The viewer has considerably more to go on than the 450-800 words the average court report gets in a daily paper.

Surely you're not suggesting that televising court cases is necessarily and automatically intrusive voyeurism?

Not automatically, and I said above that if it was possible to ensure that only unedited proceedings in their entirety were shown, so that watching the trial at home would be similar to seeing it in the courtroom, I could see the point.

But that's not possible. In my opinion the risk of edited highlights being used for entertainment rather than instruction is too great
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PostSubject: Re: Disconnected From Our Courts   Wed Apr 23, 2008 9:19 pm

Print and radio court reporting only ever present the edited highlights.
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PostSubject: Re: Disconnected From Our Courts   Wed Apr 23, 2008 10:31 pm

Kate P wrote:
Print and radio court reporting only ever present the edited highlights.

I think if the behaviour of some judges was shown on television they would be retired in a week.
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PostSubject: Re: Disconnected From Our Courts   Wed Apr 23, 2008 10:54 pm

cactus flower wrote:
Kate P wrote:
Print and radio court reporting only ever present the edited highlights.

I think if the behaviour of some judges was shown on television they would be retired in a week.

This is very very true.

Regarding the possibilities of broadcasting all court cases: This is very possible. Particularly so if we don't go down the route of allowing commercial broadcasters to pick and choose what they think would best sell a bottle of coke.

Streaming media is not some science fiction technology, it's a living and breathing entity. It would be entirely possible to stream each and every court case in the country simulatneously. Careful placement of cameras would shield witnesses from view etc. A bit of planning and this could be up and running in months. Each feed, for example could be delayed for five to ten minutes or so, in case a situation arises where the judge decides something must be discussed that isn't for public consumption.

Again, commercial media should not be allowed to broadcast these feeds. The risk of exploitation and indeed mutation is far too great. That said, not providing this service, is not to hold a court case in public. Definitions change with the times and it's about bloody time the Justice Department copped onto this fact.
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PostSubject: Re: Disconnected From Our Courts   Wed Apr 23, 2008 11:19 pm

Kate P wrote:
Print and radio court reporting only ever present the edited highlights.

I know that. You're still not addressing the point.

cactus flower wrote:
I think if the behaviour of some judges was shown on television they would be retired in a week.

I know what you're getting at. But is what you suggest a good thing? Do we want judges to be 'retired'? Do we want to go to an American style popularity contest for the judiciary. It's an interesting area
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PostSubject: Re: Disconnected From Our Courts   Wed Apr 23, 2008 11:45 pm

radicalcleric wrote:
Kate P wrote:
Print and radio court reporting only ever present the edited highlights.

I know that. You're still not addressing the point.

cactus flower wrote:
I think if the behaviour of some judges was shown on television they would be retired in a week.

I know what you're getting at. But is what you suggest a good thing? Do we want judges to be 'retired'? Do we want to go to an American style popularity contest for the judiciary. It's an interesting area

And your thoughts on Judge Judy?
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PostSubject: Re: Disconnected From Our Courts   Thu Apr 24, 2008 3:04 am

All this high profile TVzation of cases is really bad for juries imo. Juries have it hard enough facing the accused and plaintiff every day throughout the trial, without having to see horrendous OJ simpson type analysis being spewed out over the tv networks.

Leave it as it is I say. I feel connected already.
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PostSubject: Re: Disconnected From Our Courts   Fri Apr 25, 2008 2:29 am

Quote :
As for the original question - I would be opposed to the televising of court proceedings. I would be worried that there would be a shift towards Johnny Cochrane-type grandstanding and showing off from lawyers and also witnesses. Plenty of political old-timers say that the standard of debates in the Dail degenerated after the bringing in of television cameras. While overall TV is necessary in parliament, I don't see such an imperative in the courtroom.
,

For clarity, radical cleric - is this the point?
If it is I think I've dealt with it - and can happily do more; if it's not, please clarify. Thanks.
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