Byfield MD in The Times – Preparing the judiciary for their close-up

Gus Sellitto had an article published on The Times Law website on Thursday 7 November on the topic of media training for the judiciary in light of the introduction of cameras in court. Gus explains in the article that judges will be shown how the technology works, positioning of the cameras and how they will be filmed so that they have an awareness of what the viewers will see at home.

Gus goes on to write that judges may also receive training on the use of language and delivery. This is because bringing the court to the public’s home presents judges with an opportunity to change the criticism that is sometimes levelled at the judiciary that it is out of touch with ordinary people. Media training will be aimed at connecting with the public through the use of clear and accessible language.

The article details the key points Byfield advises participants of our media training and how it might help judges. For example, the importance of delivering points in short sentences while avoiding technical jargon that your audience doesn’t understand. This is important for judges as they must communicate their decisions and reasons in a clear and unambiguous way so that members of the public tuning-in are able to gather the key facts and legal issues surrounding a case. With any broadcast media training we provide we encourage the participant to consider the points he or she would like to convey and deliver them in order of importance. Gus considers that although this would have to be modified for lengthy judgments in the Court of Appeal the principle will ensure the public and the media understand the full details of the most important part of a case.

Finally Gus’ article looks at the concern that having cameras in courtrooms could elevate judges to celebrity status – like the infamous OJ Simpson trial in the US. Gus concludes that he does not expect this to be a problem because legal professionals in this country have a much more cautious approach to dealing with the media in high profile court cases. With correct media training judges will be able to communicate justice ‘in action’ to the public whilst keeping the attention on the cases and not themselves.

The Full article can be found on The Times Online: http://www.thetimes.co.uk/tto/law/article3914957.ece