Cameras approved for final days of B.C. polygamy trial

By Keith Fraser, Vancouver Province February 7, 2011

Cameras will be allowed into a B.C. court which is weighing the constitutionality of Canada’s polygamy laws.
Photograph by: PNG, Vancouver Sun
VANCOUVER — A B.C. judge has approved the use of TV cameras and webcams to cover the closing arguments of the case examining the constitutionality of Canada’s anti-polygamy laws.

A lawyer for the CBC and Global BC appeared in a B.C. Supreme Court Monday to argue there is a strong public interest in the case stemming from activity in the polygamous community of Bountiful.

Dan Burnett told B.C. Supreme Court Chief Justice Robert Bauman that most of the parties involved consented to cameras, with only one or two taking no position.

Calling it an “exceptional case,” the judge agreed to permit the cameras into the courtroom, asking for a 10- to 15-minute delay in broadcast in order to provide a safety net.

Court heard that there will likely be two TV cameras and two smaller web cameras that are expected to focus only on the judge and the lawyer making the arguments.

TV cameras have previously been used in at least one other courtroom proceeding in B.C., but it’s believed to be the first time web cameras will be allowed inside a courtroom, Burnett said outside court.

He called the ruling a “very big deal” since it allows more or less live coverage of a major trial.

A CBC application for cameras in the courtroom at the outset of the trial was rejected.

Final arguments are expected to begin March 28 and run for two weeks

The issue was referred to the court to examine the constitutionality of Canada’s polygamy law after Winston Blackmore and James Oler, two religious leaders in Bountiful, had polygamy charges against them stayed in 2009.

1 Comment
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