Anyone interested in following Mayor Larry O’Brien’s trial can get a play-by-play from reporters in the courtroom sending messages from their BlackBerrys, but it won’t be shown on TV.
Yesterday, Superior Court Justice J. Douglas Cunningham, the judge presiding over O’Brien’s trial, ruled that BlackBerrys or similar devices would be allowed in court, but only to send and receive text data.
The phone and camera features could not be used.
However, Cunningham rejected a request from the CBC to allow cameras to broadcast the trial online, saying it was made too near the trial date to be considered.
Since the trial date was set over a year ago, Cunningham said there was no valid reason why the application was not launched before April 28.
The application should have been made at least 15 days before the start of the trial and Cunningham said the CBC “failed spectacularly” to provide reason to shorten that time.
Arguing for cameras in the courtroom, CBC lawyer Daniel Henry said people in Ottawa had a direct interest in what went on in the courtroom since it “undermined the validity of the past municipal election … Not only for understanding what happened to their vote in the last election, but for evaluating whether they should vote for this candidate if he runs again in the next election,” he said.
The Crown Attorney and O’Brien’s defence team were both against allowing cameras in court. They argued that CBC application was submitted too close to the to start of the trial and risked delaying the
trial even further.
While video of the trial will not be allowed online, instant updates via BlackBerrys and portable devices will be allowed.
Crown prosecutor Scott Hutchison expressed concerns that private or protected information could be inadvertently leaked during witness testimony that would instantly appear online and could not be deleted.
However, Cunningham said that was a risk the court would have to take.