17 Sep 2012

More backing for review of TV court coverage

10:43 pm on 17 September 2012

The justice sector is united in a request for a review of the way camera footage is used in the reporting of court cases.

Law Society president Jonathan Temm called for the review at the International Criminal Congress in Queenstown.

Mr Temm told the congress that television is not delivering what was promised when televised court proceedings began in the mid 1990s.

He says television was permitted in criminal courts to promote open justice, educate and inform the public, but instead it misrepresents the truth.

Auckland University of Technology head of journalism Greg Treadwell agrees with Mr Temm and says there's too much opportunity for the best clips to be taken out and the trial not well represented.

Barrister Marie Dyhrberg says a review is due, given that cameras have now been in courts for more than 10 years.

Criminal Bar Association president Tony Bouchier has also backed calls for a review, while prominent defence lawyer Judith Ablett-Kerr says television court coverage coverage no longer informs or educates.

Live streaming

In his speech Mr Temm said he prefered the idea of live streaming of court cases, without editing or commentary, as used by the International Criminal Court at the Hague.

Courts Minister Chester Borrows welcomes the suggestion, saying it would increase public scrutiny of the courts.

The minister says cases may be live-streamed over the internet in the future but there are no plans to do that in the short-term.

He says decisions about whether television cameras should continue to be allowed in court rooms is a question for the judiciary.