Opinion: Court TV

POSTED: 09/8/11 11:54 AM

We always thought of the United Kingdom as – how to say this kindly – not the most advanced country in the universe. Now the UK is taking a step ahead of the pack by putting court cases on public television. The idea is to give the public an understanding of how the court system works and to improve transparency.
Does that sound good, or what?
Unfortunately, there will be no real live court drama on TV, at least not for now. The British version of transparency is limited to the summary remarks of judges at the end of a trial. Witnesses, victims, jurors and defendants will not be seen in these broadcasts.
We think that that is a missed opportunity, and we think that there is something to be said for adapting this approach for local consumption in St. Maarten.
Defendants are innocent until proven guilty, so they should not go on public display in a televised court case, we get that. But there is nothing against letting the public share in the court proceedings.
Hardly ever do we see witnesses appear in public court hearings, so the need to protect their identity would be limited to very few cases. Defendants’ faces could be obscured, but there is nothing against letting viewers hear what they have to say.
This way, the public would also get a reasonable idea of how the public prosecutor approaches each individual case, how attorneys defend their clients and how the judge arrives at her conclusions and finally to her verdict.
It won’t happen any time soon here, we know that, but since decision making processes in the Caribbean are notoriously slow, it won’t hurt to start thinking about this.

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