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Recording Court Proceedings

September 13, 2010 permalink

Ontario law forbids recording devices in courtrooms, but exceptions allow them for specific purposes such as a litigant supplementing his notes. Few litigants have the shorthand skills to make their own record.

The courts sometimes respect the right of litigants to record, and sometimes deny it. Signage on many courthouses forbids all recording devices, and in some courthouses security staff confiscate recorders unconditionally.

John Dunn is trying to clarify policy in this area. An email request originated on April 16, 2010, asks for information on the subject. He had to make repeat requests.



Jackie Mahon
Communications / Issues Co-Ordinator / Media Relations
Ministry of the Attoney General

I am in the process of drafting a press release regarding section 136 of the Courts of Justice Act and the Howland Directive from former Chief Justice of Ontario regarding the use of recording devices in the courts in Ontario for the purpose of supplementing the notes of lawyers, parties acting in person and journalists.

Can you please let me know who is responsible for ensuring the courts in Ontario do not have misleading information to the public such as the misleading signs telling all citizens and court security that no person shall have recording devices in the body of the court during their trial.

People are being stopped at the security stations of court houses and told they can not bring the devices into the court despite section 136 of the Courts of Justice Act which says otherwise, as supported by Chief Justice Howland's "Howland Directive".

Again, to be clear, I would like to ask who is responsible at the Ministry of the Attorney Genral for ensuring that signs at the various court houses across the province are not misleading or contrary to the existing law.

John Dunn
Executive Director
The Foster Care Council of Canada

RACAS - Ride for Accountability of Children's Aid Societies

Source: email from John Dunn

Mr Dunn only got an answer from Lynn Norris (pdf) on September 9, and that still did not answer the question.