Friday, July 10, 2009

COURTS: Father's rights group calls out justice system ~ Group defends right to record

You can go to Dave's website here to read remarks on the various court house calls and download an ebook on using recording devices in court in Ontario.MJM

Randy Richmond
The London Free Press

July 10, 2009

Members of a father's rights organization protested outside the London courthouse yesterday to draw attention to a legal right they say is being routinely trampled.

Dave Flook is president of Not All Dads Are Deadbeats. The group held a demonstration outside the London courthouse yesterday to raise awareness about the importance of defendants recording their court proceedings, which they say is an oft-ignored right in Canadian courts. (DEREK RUTTAN/Sun Media)

Few defence lawyers, crowns and judges know, or want to learn, that people have the right to make audio recordings of their own trials, said Dave Flook, 31, president of Not All Dads are Deadbeats.

"We need to educate everybody," he said.

Ordinary people have enough problems facing the unfamiliar world of court without being misled, Flook said.

"What else are they not telling us?"

Under the Ontario Courts of Justice Act, people have the right to audio record their own court hearings to supplement their notes, Flook said.

But he and other fathers fighting for better access to their children have noted some judges refuse to allow the recordings.

So the group conducted an investigation, contacting every courthouse in Ontario asking if they allowed the recordings, Flook said.

"They all said no. When the court staff are giving out wrong information, it's very unfortunate."

With no ability to record proceedings, people are left to rely on transcripts judges can alter at their will, he said. "That leads to a lack of accountability and paves the road to tyranny."

Flook said he recorded his court case in Chatham, over the objections of his ex-wife's lawyer but with the judge's approval.

"I'm not pigeonholing judges," he said.

Flook is advising people not to ask permission, because that can be denied, but simply start recording. Section 136 of the act prohibits the taking of photographs and making audio and video recordings in court.

But the section does not prohibit "a lawyer, a party acting in person or a journalist from unobtrusively making an audio recording at a court hearing, in the manner that has been approved by the judge, for the sole purpose of supplementing or replacing handwritten notes."

Randy Richmond is a Free Press reporter.

E-MAIL: Randy Richmond

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