The BC Provincial Court announced today that it has published an illustrated guide to the Court and the rule of law to help journalists and the public understand its work. Intended primarily as a resource for journalists covering legal issues and proceedings in British Columbia courts, the Guide also provides an easy-to-read explanation of the Court’s work for everyone interested in the justice system.
In fact, after reading it one person commented, “I finally understand how the Court functions after more than a decade working in the justice system!”
Using plain language, attractive formatting and graphics, the Guide describes what Provincial Court Judges do and where they do it, and includes images like this:
Percentage Breakdown of New (non-Traffic) Cases by Division 2015/16
It explains two crucial aspects of our democratic system - the Court’s role in upholding the rule of law, and why it’s important for our government and courts to operate independently of one another.
Since the Court’s work in criminal law cases receives the most media attention, the Guide provides an overview of the criminal process and key legal concepts that judges must apply.
It describes some of the BC Provincial Court’s innovations, including the specialized courts it has established in collaboration with various communities:
While the first part of the Guide is of general interest, it concludes with information about the nuts and bolts of journalists’ work – publication bans, access to court records, and other media-related court policies. It explains the different types of publication bans in Canada and provides a link to the detailed list of ban-related statute sections on the Court’s website (in the 'Information Regarding Bans on Publication' Policy). It also refers readers to the Access to Court Records, Access to Court Proceedings, and Use of Electronic Devices in Courtrooms policies on the Court’s website.
The Access to Court Records Policy provides detailed information about public and media access to documents, exhibits and recordings in each type of Provincial Court proceeding – adult criminal, youth, family, civil (small claims) and traffic, both in courtrooms and at the Justice Centre. The Access to Court Proceedings policy covers conduct in courtrooms, use of cameras and computers, televising court proceedings, obtaining reasons for judgment, and interviews. Under the Use of Electronic Devices policy, no one may transmit or receive text in a courtroom except a lawyer or accredited journalist.
The Guide even includes an occasional fun-fact.
Members of the media and everyone else can find the Provincial Court Media Guide on the Media page of the Court’s website. Statistics included in the Guide will be updated as they become available from the previous year.
If your interests or work touch the BC justice system in any way, we invite you to take a look at the BC Provincial Court Media Guide, and send any suggestions for improving it to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Credit for Burden of Proof chart: