Canadian Justice system must figure out social media: top judge

Via Scoop.itMediaMentor

Chief Justice Beverley McLachlin delivers a speech at Carleton University in Ottawa on Tuesday, Jan. 31, 2012. (Sean Kilpatrick / THE CANADIAN PRESS) [excerpt] The verdict is in from the country’s top judge: the justice system must learn to deal with social media, such as Twitter and Facebook. That’s because a free press and an independent judiciary have an “indispensable” role to play in a democracy that is committed to the rule of law, Chief Justice Beverley McLachlin said Tuesday. In a speech to students at Carleton University, McLachlin said the media in general are essential to building public trust in the administration of justice. But she says newspapers, radio and television are “old technology” at a time when anyone with a keyboard can create a blog and call themselves a journalist. She wondered whether fairness and accuracy might be lost in the world of Facebook, tweets and instant messaging, which she says are part of a profound, cultural shift in how people communicate. “Some bloggers will be professionals and academics providing thoughtful commentary and knowledge,” she said. “Others will fall short of basic journalistic standards. Will accuracy and fairness be casualties of the social media era? “What will be the consequences for public understanding of the administration of justice and confidence in the judiciary? How can a medium such as Twitter inform the public accurately or adequately in 140 characters or less of the real gist of a complex constitutional decision?” McLachlin’s remarks are timely given the so-called “honour killing” trial that ended in Kingston, Ont., over the weekend with convictions and life sentences handed down against a man and his parents in the first-degree murder of four family members. Justice Robert Maranger, the trial judge, banned tweeting from his courtroom. He allowed the use of electronic devices such as laptop computers for the purposes of note-taking only. However, other high-profile criminal proceedings — such as the Russell Williams murder case in October 2010 — featured live tweeting from the courtroom. The disgraced former air force colonel pleaded guilty to two first-degree murder and numerous sexual assault charges. In a question-and-answer session, McLachlin declined to comment on the Canadian cases. […]


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Information Curation, Communication & Media / Cure d'information, communication et medias

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