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Expanded News Media Coverage: Cameras, Recorders, and Electronic Devices in the Courtroom

Expanded News Media Coverage Restrictions

Broadcasting, recording, photographing, texting, blogging, or Tweeting real-time electronic coverage of judicial proceedings in a courtroom and adjacent areas is prohibited unless the presiding judicial officer expressly permits coverage in advance of the proceeding. The judge shall allow expanded news media coverage unless the judge concludes that the coverage would materially interfere with the rights of the parties to a fair trial. If coverage is permitted, the manner of coverage and the equipment used is limited by court rule. The complete rules for expanded media coverage can be found in Chapter 25 of the Iowa Court Rules available online at https://www.legis.iowa.gov/docs/ACO/CourtRulesChapter/04-28-2017.25.pdf 

Expanded News Media Coverage Prohibited

Expanded news media coverage of any proceeding required by law to be private is strictly prohibited. Those proceedings include, but are not limited to, civil commitment for substance abuse or mental illness, child in need of assistance and termination of parental rights upon order of the court, and grand jury proceedings. In addition, expanded news media coverage of the following cases or proceedings is prohibited:

· Victim witness testimony in sexual abuse cases (unless victim witness consents);

· Juvenile, dissolution of marriage, adoption, child custody, or trade secret cases (unless consent on the record is obtained from all parties, including a parent or guardian of a minor child);

· Jury selection or coverage of jurors generally, except coverage of the return of the jury’s verdict or to the extent it is unavoidable in the coverage of other trial participants or courtroom proceedings; and

· Conferences between attorneys and their clients, between attorneys, between attorneys and the judicial officer (at the bench or in chambers), and between judicial officers in an appellate proceeding.

How to Request Permission for Expanded News Media Coverage of a Trial or Proceeding

Requests for permission to use cameras, recording equipment, and electronic devices for texting, blogging, or Tweeting real-time electronic coverage in court proceedings must be submitted to the appropriate regional expanded news media coordinator. The news media coordinator must then file a Notice of Request for Expanded News Media Coverage (Notice of Request) with the clerk of court at least seven days in advance of the time the proceeding is scheduled to occur. The news media coordinator must also send the notice to all counsel of record, parties appearing without counsel, the district court administrator, and the presiding judge. If the proceeding is not scheduled at least seven days in advance, the Notice of Request must be made as soon as practicable.

A party to the trial or proceeding, or a witness called to testify in the trial or proceeding, may object to expanded news media coverage. The presiding judge will rule on the objection and may hold a hearing on the objection.

For a current list of regional news media coordinators, check: http://www.iowacourts.gov/wfdata/files/NewsService/mediacoordinators.pdf

How to Request Permission for Expanded News Media Coverage for an Initial Appearance in a Criminal Trial

· A news media member must make a written or oral request for expanded news media coverage to the judicial officer presiding over an initial appearance in a criminal case in advance of the proceeding.

· The news media member must be in place at least fifteen minutes prior to the scheduled time of the proceeding.

· The prosecutor, defendant, or defendant’s attorney may object to expanded news media coverage.

· Authorization for expanded news media coverage of subsequent proceedings involving the same matter must be requested separately.


How to Request Permission for Expanded News Media Coverage of Supreme Court and Court of Appeals Oral Arguments

· A news media member submits a request to the appellate court news media coordinator.

· The appellate court news media coordinator files a written notice with the clerk of the supreme court and sends notice to all counsel of record, parties appearing without counsel, the state court administrator, and the presiding justice or judge no later than the Friday immediately preceding the week in which the oral argument is to be held.

· Members of the news media must be in place at least fifteen minutes prior to the scheduled time of the oral argument.


Equipment

Court rules limit the amount and type of equipment allowed in the courtroom and the movement of news media personnel using the equipment.

Type and amount of equipment:

· All equipment must be unobtrusive and shall not produce distracting sounds.

· No more than five members of the news media using still cameras, television cameras, audio recorders, and electronic devices are permitted in the courtroom during a proceeding for recording, live streaming, or both. Pooling may be required where there is limited space.

· All news media personnel must wear identification stating the person’s name and media affiliation (contact the regional news media coordinator for information about how the process is handled in the region).

· No flashbulbs or artificial light sources are permitted.

· Where possible, related equipment must be located outside the courtroom.

· Where possible and if suitable, existing courtroom audio equipment must be used.

· Pooling of equipment is required when necessary to accommodate news media.

· Pooling arrangements are the responsibility of the regional news media coordinator.

Equipment setup and removal:

· All equipment must be in place at least fifteen minutes prior to the scheduled start of the proceeding.

· Equipment must be operated from a fixed position only; news media personnel may not move about the courtroom or move in a way that distracts from the proceeding.

· Equipment may be removed only when the court is not in session


Decorum

· News media personnel must be properly attired and maintain proper decorum at all times while covering the proceeding.

· News media personnel must not move about the courtroom or move in a way that distracts from the proceeding.

· Cell phones and pagers must be turned off when in court.


Tips

· Read the rules.

· Make sure the expanded news media coverage request is timely; do not wait until the last minute.

· If possible, work with the appropriate court staff, and in some instances, the presiding judge, in advance of the day of the hearing or trial to discuss equipment placement, ground rules, and decorum

· Check the courtroom well in advance of the trial or hearing for electrical outlets, lighting, and need for extension cords or other equipment

· On the day of the trial or hearing, arrive at the courtroom early and set up equipment well in advance of the proceeding.

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