B.C. wants TV in court for riot cases

Two suspected rioters from Maple Ridge make court appearances

Two men from Maple Ridge have been charged for rioting in downtown Vancouver after the Canucks lost Game 7 to the Boston Bruins on June 15.

The B.C. Crown will apply to have cameras in the courtrooms at all of the Stanley Cup riot-related trials.

The application comes on the order of the Attorney General who cites “greater transparency”  and “significant public interest” as reasons for the unusual request.

“The Stanley Cup riot was watched by many across the province on their home televisions as the event unfolded,” said Attorney General Shirley Bond.

“We believe the courts need to be open institutions for the public and when we have opportunities to enhance the transparency of our justice system, we need to take those on.”

B.C. Premier Christy Clark made the promise to broadcast trial in a throne speech delivered earlier this year.

The Supreme Court of Canada is the only court in the country that regularly broadcasts proceedings. Several other courts have allowed televised proceedings on rare occasions with an application to the judge. The most recent being B.C. Supreme Court which allowed cameras in while it examined the constitutionality of Canada’s anti-polygamy laws.

The list of conditions under which broadcasting may be done from court are lengthy.

A judge must consents to broadcast access and nothing can be aired until at least two hours after a morning or afternoon session has been adjourned. Everyone involved, from lawyers to witnesses to defendants, has a veto over their image or voice being broadcast.

“Premier Clark has been clear since she assumed her role as Premier that we need to look for opportunities to increase openness and encourage dialogue with the public,” Bond added.

“In general, the notion of cameras in the courtroom is a positive step in opening up our courtrooms and, should the judge allow the Crown’s application, will help give the public greater insight into our justice system.”

The first applications to televise the trials of suspected rioters were made last week, as the accused made first appearances in Vancouver provincial court.

Maple Ridge residents Jeff Post and Connor Epp, both 20, face one count each of participating in a riot and another of mischief.

Post arrived at court on crutches.

“I’m remorseful for what I did, and I’m dealing with the police,”  Post said outside court, in a report by the Canadian Press.

Epp made his first appearance on Thursday and both men are scheduled to return to court in January.

The men were among the first wave of suspected rioters to face charges in connection with the June 15 rampage that erupted after the Vancouver Canucks lost Game 7 of the Stanley Cup finals to the Boston Bruins.

A total of 27 people have been charged so far.

VPD officials have called the night of mayhem the largest crime spree in B.C. and say several hundred suspects could ultimately be prosecuted.

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