Sunday, December 10, 2017

Transparency watch

The website of the Court Martial Appeal Court of Canada includes a February 23, 2017 Notice to the Profession concerning access to digital audio recordings of the court's proceedings. It reads:
As of February 23, 2017, the Court Martial Appeal Court of Canada will create and keep an audio recording of all hearings using a digital audio recording system (DARS). This does not apply to hearings by teleconference, which may be recorded in the Court’s discretion. 
Copies of the audio recording of a proceeding will be made available to the parties upon request. Media organizations and members of the public will be authorized, upon request, to listen to an audio recording, if they were entitled to be present in the courtroom for that proceeding. A court order is required before media organizations and members of the public are able to obtain a copy of an audio recording. 
In the case of oral reasons for judgment, the reasons will be redacted from the audio recording. 
Where there are access restrictions applicable during the hearing (e.g., as a result of a confidentiality Order or publication ban), the protected information will, where practicable, be redacted from the audio recording so as to allow for access. The audio recording will not be released if it is impracticable to redact the protected information. 
Exceptionally, there may also be situations where protected communications (e.g., between solicitor and client) are inadvertently recorded. Parties and their legal counsel should exercise prudence when such discussions close to the hearing room microphones, which are sensitive. Any concerns with respect to a recording should be brought as soon as possible to the attention of the Court. 
Request Process – Complete the form in the Annex and submit it to the Registry (in person or by fax). See the Registry Offices page of the Court web site ( to find your local Registry office. The Registry will contact you once the audio recording is available. 
Restrictions on Use of Audio Recordings of Court Martial Appeal Court of Canada Proceedings – Copyright in audio recordings shall vest in and remain the property of Her Majesty the Queen in Right of Canada. Reproduction, broadcast or distribution of any audio recording of Court Martial Appeal Court of Canada proceedings is prohibited.
One would think the public interest would be served by making the audio of hearings available as a matter of routine, as other courts have increasingly founds ways to do. This includes the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces, as this website page shows. The Supreme Court of Canada posts archived webcasts here and has a form for requesting video recordings or webcasts here. FAQs are provided here. Perhaps a way can also be found around the crown copyright, so that, in a proper case, the media could post links to or otherwise disseminate recordings of CMAC hearings.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Comments are subject to moderation and must be submitted under your real name. Anonymous comments will not be posted (even though the form seems to permit them).