This Protocol is founded on the “open courts” principle, which requires transparency and accountability in the judicial system to foster public confidence in the administration of justice.
This Protocol applies to all persons attending or participating in a location where public proceedings are being held before a Hearing Panel of the Ontario Judicial Council (OJC) regarding the conduct of a judge of the Ontario Court of Justice. Use of electronic communication devices should never interfere with the hearing proceedings or the ability to have a fair hearing.
“Electronic communication devices” include all computers, personal electronic and digital devices, and mobile, cellular and smart phones.
“Hearing Panel” means the four-person panel consisting of a judge of the Court of Appeal of Ontario, a judge of the Ontario Court of Justice, a lawyer and a community member.
(3) Use of Electronic Communication Devices in Hearings
The use of electronic communication devices in silent or vibrate mode is permitted, except as follows:
- The presiding Hearing Panel orders otherwise.
- Legislation (e.g. the Courts of Justice Act or the Statutory Powers Procedures Act) or the Hearing Panel restricts public attendance.
- No photos or videos may be taken unless there is a Hearing Panel order otherwise.
- Audio recording of proceedings is permitted by counsel, members of the media, and litigants for note-taking purposes only but the Hearing Panel must be advised before the recording is commenced. These audio recordings cannot be transmitted.
- Talking on electronic communication devices is not permitted while the hearing is in session.
(4) Publication Bans and Other Restrictions
Anyone using an electronic communication device to transmit information has the responsibility to identify and comply with any publication bans, sealing orders, or other restrictions imposed by statute or by order of the Hearing Panel.
(5) Hearing Panel Orders
The presiding Hearing Panel retains overriding responsibility to maintain hearing room decorum and to ensure that proceedings are conducted in a manner consistent with the proper administration of justice. In deciding whether to restrict the use of electronic communication devices, the Hearing Panel may consider whether there is evidence regarding factors such as:
- whether the use of electronic communication devices would disrupt the proceedings or interfere with the proper functioning of the electronic equipment being used to make a proper record of the hearing; or
- whether the use of electronic communication devices would interfere with witness testimony, or unreasonably infringe anyone’s privacy or security.
The Ontario Judicial Council is a body independent of the Ontario Court of Justice with jurisdiction to investigate and dispose of complaints about the conduct of judges of that Court. The Hearing Panel presiding over the hearing notes that the Ontario Court of Justice has established a Protocol Regarding the Use of Electronic Communication Devices in Court Proceedings and has decided to adopt the rules of that Protocol as set out above for its hearings.