The Chief Justice Anthony Smellie has released new guidelines for public access to court proceedings during the Covid-19 pandemic which will increase the use of audio and video technology to keep people informed.
In keeping with current rules, judges and magistrates can decide if a hearing should be held in private, in particular, family and children’s law proceedings won’t be broadcast, while broadcasts might be suspended in criminal proceedings to prevent other witnesses hearing what is going on. But the courts will allow access by way of live-streaming if a public gallery is available where the integrity of the proceedings can be safe-guarded, the Chief Justice said. Third parties, such as members of the press, might also join in on hearing or watching the proceedings via password access to observe the hearing remotely. At the moment, live-streaming of proceedings will take place at Constitution Hall (the old George Town Town Hall) where members of the public can access proceedings for observation only, subject to social distancing protocols.
Interested people can also buy transcripts of hearings, where they are available. It is up to the judge as to whether such transcripts can be made available and public access to transcripts, notes or other information relating to Court proceedings will be in keeping with applicable law and court rules. The judge can also allow an audio recording to be listened to in a court building. The publication of the outcome of Grand Court and Court of Appeal hearings, orders or results will continue to be available, mostly on line, the Chief Justice explained.
Accredited media can access hearings and information on the website www.Judicial.ky or by email. But the media and anyone else who is allowed to observe the hearing remotely are warned that they would be in contempt of court if they make unauthorised recordings of the proceedings or use the recordings to interfere with the administration of justice. A note will be included during the streaming to remind people that they cannot photograph, film or record proceedings except with the approval of the court. The media and anyone else interested in observing proceedings will need make their request to the court ahead of the event to allow for them to be included.