Prince Edward Island Court of Appeal
Media and Public Access
The Courts of Prince Edward Island recognize the important role that media play in informing the public about what takes place in court.
The Court of Appeal Practice Directions [sec. 12B] provide detailed information about courtroom access and restrictions. Generally, the following guidelines and protocols are in place to assist the media in reporting on court matters.
Rules for Media in the Courthouse
- Media may not obstruct or hinder free movement of persons in public areas, including stopping in front of a person or blocking a person from passing;
- Media may not pursue individuals with cameras or microphones;
- Media may request an interview from a person within the courtroom or upon exiting the courtroom;
- Media may not film for audio or video, take photos or interview in the general vicinity of court rooms or near the entrance and exit doors;
- Media may film for audio or video, take photos or interview in designated areas in the public section of the courthouse;
- Media must move to the designated area with a person consents to give an interview;
- Safety instructions and security zones must be respected; and
- Any person may contact the security service of the courthouse to have the rules enforced.
Cameras in the Courtroom
Media may operate television and still cameras in the courtroom during a hearing of the Court of Appeal, unless for special circumstances, the presiding judge otherwise orders.
Media cameras shall not be operated in any manner that interferes with the court process: no flashes, no bright lights, no distracting movements or sounds.
Cameras are allowed for the purpose of capturing proceedings, the Court and those seated at counsel tables. Photographing spectators is prohibited. Where spectators do appear in the background, they shall not be focused upon or highlighted. Any images obtained as a result of photographing court proceedings shall not be used for stock footage.
Videotaping of proceedings may be allowed with one or more fixed cameras, at a position(s) agreed upon by the Court. The cost of any installation shall be borne by the media interested in obtaining video images of proceedings. Once installed, the system will be available for use by all authorized media.
Documents and computer screens on counsel tables, clerk’s desk or the bench shall not be captured in such a way that the text can be magnified, read or deciphered.
Camera persons will be allowed to take photographs from in front of the Bar, in accordance with these rules, prior to the scheduled start of proceedings.
Media Use of Electronic Devices
Accredited media and other authorized persons may use electronic devices in courtrooms as outlined in Use of Electronic Devices. Any restrictions are in place to protect the integrity and serenity of the court process and privacy interests.
Wireless Internet AccessWireless internet acess is available free of charge in Charlottetown courthouses.
Members of the media, counsel, law clerks, self-represented litigants and law enforcement officers may request access to the court wireless "guest" network from Court Administration upon entering the courthouse.
You will be given a username and password to enable connection. A guest account is time sensitive with a defined amount of time assigned to your account.
The Court network is internal and access is provided only to government issued devices of judges and court staff.
Any unauthorized or illegal use of the wireless or courthouse network can be tracked to the user and associated electronic device. Traffic may be monitored by government or its agents for this purpose.
Access to Court DocumentsCourt files and documents are held in the custody of the Registrar of the Court at the Sir Louis Henry Davies Law Courts.
Media and the public may search the file indices and review documents from the Court Registrar in the presence of court staff. Court documents may not be removed or altered.
Reasonable requests for copies of documents will be made by court staff for a fee.
General Rule and Exceptions
The general rule is that court documents are a matter of public record.
In Canadian Broadcasting Corp. v. The Queen, 2011 SCC 3 (CBC #2) the Supreme Court of Canada advised that access and public access to exhibits is a corollary to the open court principle. In the absence of a specific statutory provision, it is for the presiding judge to determine how exhibits can be used so as to ensure that a trial or appeal is orderly. The decision of Justice Mitchell (then of the Supreme Court of Prince Edward Island) in RE: CBC Application (R. v. Dingwell), 2012 PESC 14 sets out the underlying principles and provides some guidance to the media and the public for the future.
Accredited media and journalists may request a designated space in the courthouse for media interviews.
You may be asked by court staff to display your accreditation at anytime, or at all times, to easily identify that you have permitted access and/or permitted use of electronic devices.
Wireless AccessVisit Court Administration inside the courthouse entrance to request a 'guest' username and password.
Contact the Manager of Court Services
or a court clerk in a particular proceeding