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Fourth Judicial District Court

Tribunal del Cuarto Distrito Judicial

Media Cameras in Courtroom Policy & Procedures


Purpose and Scope

This policy sets out the permitted and prohibited use of video/audio recording devices in courtrooms of the Fourth Judicial District Court.

Discretion of Presiding Judges

Nothing in this policy affects the authority of the presiding judge to determine what, if any, use can be made of audio/video recording devices in a courtroom.

Prohibitions of Use of Audio/Video Recording Devices

  1. “Smart” phones, cell phones, or other electronic devices will not be used for the purpose of audio or video recording the proceedings unless approved by the presiding judge.
  2. In addition, a video/audio device may not be used in a courtroom:
    1. in a manner that interferes with the court sound system or other technology;
    2. in a manner that interferes with courtroom decorum, is inconsistent with the court functions, or otherwise impedes the administration of justice;
    3. in a manner that generates sound or requires speaking into the device;

Permitted Use of Video/Audio Recording Devices

News media agencies that have notified and obtained approval of the presiding judge at least 24 hours in advance of their intent to provide film, videotape or still photographic coverage of judicial proceedings will be allowed in the courtroom. 

Information Regarding Use of Video/Audio Recording Devices

The presiding judge will decide where cameras and microphones can be placed in the courtroom. Judges may differ on this. The camera operator must remain in the area designated except when the proceeding is in recess. Changing of lenses or film will only be done during a recess.

The personal audio recording devices used by reporters must not be obstructive or distracting in the courtroom. Reporters must sit at any place in the audience portion of the courtroom and keep the recording device on their person at all times.

Accredited media may use electronic devices to transmit and receive text in a discreet manner and does not interfere with the proceedings. Up to two news media television cameras will be allowed in the courtroom. Only one camera can be mounted on a tripod with a single camera operation, will be permitted to be physically in the courtroom.

No auxiliary lighting, including flash bulbs, strobe lights and reflectors, may be brought into the courtroom by members of the media. Only television equipment which does not produce light or distracting sound will be permitted.  Videotape recording equipment which is not a component part of television camera shall, whenever possible, be located outside of the courtroom.

Cameras are not allowed beyond the double swinging doors that separate the public area from the front of the courtroom

News media must arrange any pooling of footage or film among themselves. The court will not participate in any pooling agreement.

Equipment and camera operators must be ready to record 30 minutes prior to the court proceeding.

Equipment must not be installed, moved or removed from the courtroom while court is in session. Television camera and radio broadcast persons and still photographers must remain in their designated area and are not permitted to move around in the courtroom while court is in session. 

Tape down all cables and remove all tape that is used. Tape on floor must not create a safety hazard.

The confidentiality of the attorney/client relationship must be protected. Therefore, there will be no audio or video recording of any conference between attorneys and their clients, between co-counsel of a client, between counsel and presiding judge when held at a bench.

Jurors will not be photographed or filmed.

Interviews will not be conducted in any part of the courtroom.

Publication Bans, Sealing Orders, Restrictions on Publication

Nothing in this policy alters the effect of a publication ban, sealing order or other restriction imposed by statute or the court, limiting the publication of information.

Anyone using an electronic device to transmit information from a courtroom has the responsibility to identify and comply with any publication bans, sealing orders, or other restrictions that have been imposed either by statute or by court order.

Penalties

 A person using an electronic device in a manner prohibited by this policy may be subject to one or more of the following sanctions:

  1. a direction to turn off the electronic audio/video recording device;
  2. a direction to leave the courtroom;
  3. a direction to forfeit the media accreditation card;
  4. citation, and prosecution for contempt of court;
  5. prosecution for any violation of a publication ban, sealing order, or other restriction on publication; or
  6. any other order of the court.