Court TV broadcast focuses on cases involving drugs, guns

A number of cases involving drug or gun-related charges were featured in the first live broadcast from Manitoba's provincial court on Tuesday.
Manitoba's courts have allowed media to broadcast and live stream two court cases since April. (Chris Glover/CBC)

A number of cases involving drug or gun-related charges were featured in the first live broadcast from Manitoba's provincial court on Tuesday.

There were seven cases on the 2 p.m. docket at the Winnipeg courthouse. Some of the cases were rescheduled while some were resolved quickly with guilty pleas.

Defence lawyer Hymie Weinstein, who is representing a man charged with a drug-related offence, says he has no issue with cameras in the courtroom as long as his clients are not shown.

"We wouldn't agree to that — at least I wouldn't," he said outside court.

"I can't see any defence lawyer saying, 'Yes, I'd like my client televised so the whole public can … see what he looks like.'"

Weinstein's client apologized during Tuesday's hearing, but he could not be seen in the broadcast because as part of the pilot project, the cameras can only show the judge and lawyers.

Tuesday's hearing marks the third broadcast in a pilot project that the Manitoba Law Courts announced in April to allow the media to broadcast some proceedings.

The first proceeding on April 16 saw a not-guilty verdict in the trial for Cassandra Knott, who was charged with second-degree murder in connection with her husband's death in 2011.

The second broadcast, on April 30, was an appeal of Denis Jerome Labossiere's three first-degree murder convictions in the deaths of his parents and brother in a farm house fire in 2005. The appeal court reserved its decision in the case.

Weinstein said he thinks cameras in the courtroom can educate the public about the court system.

"The media has not been doing a good job of educating the public as far as court proceedings," he said.

"This way, the public who wants can watch the full proceedings, so they come away knowing exactly how the court works."

Weinstein added that he knew cameras would eventually end up in Manitoba's courtrooms, but he hopes it won't be anything like media coverage of court proceedings in the United States.

"In the States, jury members have press conferences after. We just sit back and shake our heads. Hopefully it will never be like it is in the States," he said.

The next broadcast will be from the Court of Appeal on May 30.