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.
| (DEREK RUTTAN/Sun Media) |
"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.