At Home: Order in the Court, Part I
Want to tweet the latest trial news straight from the source? Your time may be running out. While Canadian law is largely patchwork on the presence of technology and social media in the courtroom, the province of Quebec has spoken out: no more courtroom Tweets.
As The Toronto Star reports, ?Quebec judges have decided to put an end to the practice? of allowing ?tweets and texts from the confines of a courtroom.?
The guidelines, which ?came after months of discussions? among members of the Quebec Court, Superior Court, and Court of Appeal, note that ?[it] is prohibited to broadcast or communicate text messages, observations, information, notes, photographs, audio or video recordings from inside the courtroom to the outside.?
This would appear to also prohibit relaying breaking news and photos via email, Facebook, or other sharing media. The use of electronic media for notetaking, however, is acceptable, and journalists and lawyers can keep their electronic devices on vibrate or silent.
Brian Myles, president of the Quebec Federation of Journalists, expressed concern that the judges had acted without thinking of the implications. He told reporters that ?Twitter is a tool of the 21st century and it allows journalists to bring the citizen into the courtroom.?
Around the World: Order in the Court, Part II
While judges in Quebec were busy debating whether to limit electronic devices in the courtroom, one US judge was wrestling with a unique technology blooper: what happens when a judge’s smart phone goes off in the middle of court?
As the Herald Sun reports, Michigan District Court Judge Raymond Voet takes a hard line on cellphone use in the courtroom?including, apparently, his own.
During a jury trial, Judge Voet’s ?new smartphone began to emit sounds requesting phone voice commands.? While the judge, embarrassed, realized he must have inadvertently ?bumped? the phone, he told reporters, he decided that he wasn’t above the law.
His courtroom’s policy requires that ?electronic devices causing a disturbance during court sessions will result in the owner being cited with contempt.? The judge told reporters that even if the phone’s noises were unintentional, he didn’t ?take those excuses from anyone else.?
The judge ?held himself in contempt, fined himself and paid the fine.?