Canadian Lawyer

April 2021

The most widely read magazine for Canadian lawyers

Issue link: http://digital.canadianlawyermag.com/i/1354729

Contents of this Issue

Navigation

Page 6 of 51

www.canadianlawyermag.com 5 justice. "But how will enforcement of this statutory provision occur if someone outside Ontario or Canada breaches this provision?" "The conflict really now is that we do not yet have a 'televise the courts' rule," says John Struthers, who is a criminal lawyer in Toronto and president of the Criminal Lawyers' Asso- ciation. "I very much support open courts and have very much supported the fact that anything filed in the court should be public," says Struthers. "But there are also issues of confidential informants, there are issues of complainant confidentiality, there's evidence that is sometimes medically compromising. "We are all learning, [but] it's a situation where I think we're moving much more toward open public access to all court proceedings." Struthers says the CLA was keen on virtual trials from the beginning of the pandemic, "We're so tied to the paper-based system [and] just catching up on transitioning to digital that that aspect of public access has been not left behind but delayed." Russell Alexander, Russell Alexander Family Lawyers designing a mock Zoom trial that ended up being used as a template in B.C. and Alberta. Virtual trials offer many additional advan- tages along with media access, says Struthers, especially where there are strict physical distancing and masking requirements for physical trials. "Somebody who's on a 32-inch screen, that I'm listening to on earphones directly in front of me so I can see their eyes dilate and listen to their breathing, is going to be a much easier person to evaluate than somebody sequestered behind all sorts of barricades inside a physical room." Russell Alexander, a family law lawyer at Russell Alexander Family Lawyers in Markham, Ont., supports having cameras into the courtroom because "so many cases would settle overnight because nobody wants to air their dirty laundry." Alexander says that, even though there are cameras in every virtual trial, "the public access to these types of hearings is really limited because there's not that much information other than notices to the profession, which usually goes to lawyers and stakeholders. "We're so tied to the paper-based system [and] just catching up on transitioning to digital that that aspect of public access has been not left behind but delayed." MINASSIAN TRIAL ON ZOOM Alek Minassian's judge-alone trial, in the widely reported 'Toronto van attack' case, began in November 2020 as one of the first in the country to proceed over Zoom. The trial had: 399 registered viewers on a Zoom webinar made available to victims, victims' relatives and members of the media Just less than 50 people observing from a room at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre where masking requirements and social distancing were in effect

Articles in this issue

Links on this page

Archives of this issue

view archives of Canadian Lawyer - April 2021