A family law judge in Ontario has launched an online video talk show to teach the public about family law issues. In the show, Family Matters, Judge Harvey Brownstone acts as host and interviews guests from various sectors of the legal community, including lawyers, mediators and social workers.
“This is a new kind of talk show, created to educate and enlighten parents and families about issues that are of importance to the modern North American family,” Brownstone says in the series’ introductory episode. Through the show, he is trying “to bring the law and the justice system to the public in an easily accessible way.”
It is the first TV talk show to be hosted by a sitting judge, Brownstone says.
Brownstone, who serves on the North Toronto Family Court, is well known in Canada. He is author of a book, Tug of War: A Judge’s Verdict on Separation, Custody Battles, and the Bitter Realities of Family Court, that spent 12 weeks on the Canadian bestseller list. His bio calls him “Canada’s own celebrity judge.”
The show is professionally produced and taped in a Toronto studio in front of what sounds to be a live studio audience. Brownstone makes no money from the show. A portion of the show’s advertising proceeds are donated to children’s charities.
Topics of recent shows include prenups, family law lawyers, elder abuse, family law mediaiton, collaborative divorce “the smart divorce.”
A story about the show in the Canadian legal newspaper The Lawyers Weekly says that Brownstone hopes the show might someday be picked up by a major commercial TV network in Canada or the U.S.
Meanwhile, Brownstone remains cognizant of judicial ethics and is careful not to express opinions on the issues he and his guests discuss. Instead, he serves the role of talk-show host, asking questions and guiding the discussion.