May 20, 2014 9:50 pm

Provincial court broadcast features drug and gun cases

WINNIPEG — The public was shown another glimpse of Manitoba’s court system at work Tuesday.

Provincial court proceedings were broadcast live online for the first time, featuring a number of drug and gun cases.

“I think that’s the idea for the initiative for this project,” said Stephen Christie, a federal Crown prosecutor. “We want the public not just to hear, ‘Here is the sentence, this is what happened,’ and then have the questions about why was the sentence given to this person in this case.”

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There have now been three live broadcasts since April highlighting all three levels of court in the province, including the Court of Queen’s Bench and Manitoba Court of Appeal. Tuesday marked the first time provincial court proceedings were broadcast.

What the public has learned so far: the wheels of justice turn slowly.

One man was given a conditional discharge for unsafe storage of a 12-gauge shotgun — he was charged over a year ago. A woman arrested for trafficking crack cocaine was given a conditional sentence for charges from February 2012.

“It can take some time to get proceedings to their end result, but I like to think when we take our time, we get the right result,” said Scott Newman, a defence lawyer.

There are still restrictions on court broadcasts. People sitting in the court gallery and the accused can’t be shown. Don’t expect that to change soon. Lawyers said their clients deserve some privacy.

“I don’t know if that’s a decision that needs to be made right now,” said Christie. “Obviously we have to concern ourselves with people appearing on camera who have not been convicted of matters.”

Manitoba joins a growing list of courts around the country allowing for some form of live broadcast. Whether this become the norm in Manitoba’s courtrooms likely won’t be decided until well after the pilot project ends and top judges get a chance to evaluate it.

© Shaw Media, 2014

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