Newspaper article The Chronicle (Toowoomba, Australia)

Don't Get Court Watching This Channel

Newspaper article The Chronicle (Toowoomba, Australia)

Don't Get Court Watching This Channel

Article excerpt

IT WAS with some interest that I read this week Queensland's new Chief Justice Tim Carmody was open to the idea of allowing television cameras into our courts.

The idea was mooted about 10 years ago but knocked on the head as quick as one could say "case dismissed".

While one could only imagine the sort of ratings a televised hearing such as the Bayden-Clay trial would bring, for the most part, court proceedings are usually fairly boring.

Having covered much of our courts for the past 20 years, I have to say I have mixed feelings on Court TV.

Some of the stuff that goes on in court is certainly more entertaining than day-time TV, which wouldn't be hard, and it actually is "reality TV" but the much of it wouldn't rate higher than an accountants' meeting.

Imagine watching a fraud trial.

As utter boredom sets in with figures, figures and more figures, the camera slowly pans across the court room catching various people in the public gallery, the jury box and (heaven forbid) the media table, nodding off to sleep.

I can just hear my editor, watching proceedings on TV in the newsroom, barking: "Is that Hardwick asleep in the courtroom... again?"

The thing about televising court is that only the big name trials are likely to be screened, yet the entertaining stuff invariably takes place in the lower courts.

Scenes of prisoners trying to run from the dock, or scuffle with police - or their solicitor - seldom happens in the higher District and Supreme courts where more time has been made available to prepare matters.

The funnier stuff usually takes place in the "fly by the seat of your pants" Magistrates Court.

For some, and I'm one of them, watching a defendant suddenly go off in the dock can be entertaining.

Just last year, we had a guy in Toowoomba call the magistrate just about every word in the Book of Expletives when he was refused bail. …

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