Tweeting from Ontario court now allowed for reporters, lawyers

Credits: Judith Cailhier/le reflet/ QMI AGENCY


LONDON - It's not taboo to tweet in Ontario courts anymore -- at least not for lawyers and media.

Friday marked a new era of transparency in Ontario's Superior Court of Justice when lawyers, paralegals and journalists were allowed to officially use their electronic devices in court for the first time.

Cellphones must be in a silent mode, and as long as the devices don't interfere with the recording of court proceedings or their use is distracting, the phones are on.

The protocols were announced in December, and it wasn't clear Friday how successful the rule changes had played out across the province.

But journalists are excited about the new guidelines that clearly set out the ground rules for "real time" reporting directly from courtrooms.

"We're delighted," said Brantford reporter Hugo Rodriguez, president of the Canadian Association of Journalists.

"We're definitely in the camp of people that push for anything that will make explaining and observing and watching what's happening in a court a more transparent process."

His association will be "watching with curiosity" how the direction is followed in all parts of the province.

Ottawa lawyer Norman Boxall, president of the Criminal Lawyers' Association, said modern electronic devices are "close to essential" for lawyers.

The new protocol will allow for better communication with offices and research right in the courtroom.

"This is just a recognition of smartphones, and computers are essentials now," Boxall said.

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