By Ian Mulgrew for The Vancouver Sun
In an unprecedented, lively social media appearance, Provincial Court Chief Judge Thomas Crabtree hosted a Twitter Town Hall on Thursday, B.C. Law Day.
Appropriately, the landmark session began at 1 p.m. with the tweet: “Order on . All rise. Town Hall is now in session. CJ Crabtree now presiding. ”
The broad discussion featured legal system stakeholders, lawyers, law students and people who didn’t know that divorce was in the Supreme Court’s jurisdiction, not the bailiwick of the provincial bench.
For two hours, Crabtree replied to dozens of queries about legal issues ranging from small claims to child welfare and the over-representation of aboriginal people within the legal system.
He provided ready references to key sources of information, cited links to resources, explained how the court worked, offered advice and even provided a selfie:
Here is a selection of the type of Q&As the exercise prompted:
Q: Any concern about judge/jurisd’n shopping from future use of legal analytics? à la Lexmachina Loomanalytics @BCProvCourt
A: .@Mainly_M Court’s new #trial scheduling system will reduce #judge shopping although it doesn’t prevent it entirely.
Q: Any advice for law students on how to best improve access to justice in BC? @AllardLaw
Q: @LocalNewsEye #Duncan First Nations court: How to track success/ use mediators vs judges?
A: @LocalNewsEye FNC is in year 2 of 3 yr evaluation led by @UBC. See bit.ly/1STBHyo. #restorativejustice #BCLawWeek
Q: @BCProvCourt What do you foresee as near- and far-term impacts of online DR initiatives like BC’s CRT on your court?
Q: .@BCProvCourt Any chance Court stays open some evenings & weekends to better accommodate working schedules (and up #A2J)?
A: @A2JamieMac Night Court operates for some civil matters & bail hearings/search warrants are heard evenings & weekends.
Q: @BCProvCourt Thanks for your answer re extended hours! Is your Night Court anything like this? :)
Q: “Tell me, where are we going? Oh, what’s the future showin’? Oh, where are we headed?” What is the future of the Court?
It is believed to be the first time in Canada that a chief judge has answered questions live on Twitter and the event was a highlight of #BCLawWeek.
Efforts will be made to answer outstanding questions and there also is more information on the court’s website.
Or, as the Canadian Bar Association tweeted: “Don’t forget! If you can’t …Ask a lawyer on Dial-A-Lawyer Day (Saturday) 10-2pm. 1-800-663-1919 .”