RTDNA Cameras in the Courts: North Dakota-Tennessee
 
North Dakota
 
Allows Cameras? Yes
Does Not Allow Cameras? No
Partial Allowance of Cameras? No
Audio or Video Webcast? Yes
Media Guide Available? No
 
Extended media coverage is authorized in all courts.  The judge may deny media coverage of any proceeding or portion of a proceeding in which the judge determines that media coverage would materially interfere with a party’s right to a fair trial or when a witness or party objects and shows good cause why expanded coverage should not be permitted.  The judge may also deny coverage if the coverage would include testimony of an adult victim or witness in sex offense prosecutions; or would include a juvenile victim or witness in proceedings in which illegal sexual activity is an element of the evidence; or coverage would include undercover or relocated witnesses.
 
Coverage of proceedings held in chambers, proceedings closed to the public, and jury selection is prohibited.

Conferences between an attorney and client, witness or aide, between attorneys, or between counsel and the bench may not be recorded or received by sound equipment.  Further, close up photography of jurors is also prohibited.

 
Requests for expanded media coverage of the Supreme Court must be made at least seventy-two hours before the proceeding and must be made by regular mail and, if possible, by facsimile with copies to counsel of record.
 
The North Dakota Supreme Court provides live audio webcasts of oral arguments with archives dating back one calendar year.
 
Requests for expanded media coverage of trial court proceedings must be made to the presiding judge at least seven days before the proceeding.  Notice of the request must be given to all counsel of record and any pro se parties.  The notice must be in writing and filed with proof of service with the clerk of the appropriate court. 

Unless the court permits otherwise, any electronic device in the courtroom must be turned off or muted, and any authorized use of a device must be as minimally disruptive as possible. A juror may not possess any wireless communication device during deliberations.
 
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Ohio

Allows Cameras? Yes
Does Not Allow Cameras? No
Partial Allowance of Cameras? No
Audio or Video Webcast? Yes
Media Guide Available? Yes

 
Rule 12 of the Rules of Superintendence for the Courts of Ohio requires judges to permit coverage of proceedings that are open to the public, subject to certain exceptions.
 
At the trial level, coverage of objecting witnesses and victims is prohibited. The judge is also required to inform victims and witnesses of their right to object to coverage.

Requests for coverage must be submitted to the presiding judge, as the consent of the judge is required for coverage to take place. Only one still photographer and one television camera are permitted in the courtroom, unless the judge grants permission to use additional cameras. Coverage of attorney-client conferences and any bench conferences is prohibited. In addition to these rules, local courts may impose additional obligations and requirement for extended coverage.

 
Rule 12 may be modified by local rules. For example, the Hamilton County Court of Common Pleas requires broadcasters to use the court’s audio system and permits coverage requests to be made up to thirty (30) minutes before the start of the proceeding.
 
The Ohio Supreme Court provides live video webcasts of oral arguments, with archives dating back to March 2004. The Court also provides podcast audio on iTunes.

 
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Oklahoma

Allows Cameras? No Rules
Does Not Allow Cameras? No Rules
Partial Allowance of Cameras? No Rules
Audio or Video Webcast? No
Media Guide Available? No

 
Oklahoma Code of Judicial Conduct Canon 3 previously prohibited the use of cameras or other broadcasting equipment from courtrooms without the express permission from the judge.  This rule was superceded in April 2011; there is currently no rule regarding the use of cameras in Oklahoma courtrooms.  

 
 

Oregon

Allows Cameras? Yes
Does Not Allow Cameras? No 
Partial Allowance of Cameras? No 
Audio or Video Webcast? Yes
Media Guide Available? No

 
The Oregon Constitution contains a provision that helps to ensure that courts remain open and accessible.  Oregon Constitution Article I Section 10 provides that “no court shall be secret, but justice shall be administered, openly and without purchase, completely and without delay, and every man shall have remedy by due course of law for injury done him in his person, property, or reputation.” 
 
In the appellate courts, broad discretion to permit or deny coverage is vested in the judge, who may deny coverage to “control the conduct of the proceedings before the court, insure decorum and prevent distractions, and insure the fair administration of justice in proceedings before the court.”  Only one television camera and one still photographer are allowed in the courtroom at any one time, and any pooling arrangements are the responsibility of the media.
 
At the trial court level, “public access coverage” is allowed, but a judge may deny coverage if there is a “reasonable likelihood” that the coverage would interfere with the rights of the parties to a fair trial, would affect the presentation of evidence or the outcome of the trial, or if “any cost or increased burden resulting” from the coverage would interfere with the “efficient administration of justice.”  Public access coverage is not limited to the traditional media, but includes any person using “television equipment; still photography equipment; audio, video, or other electronic recording equipment.”  Coverage of dissolution, juvenile, paternity, adoption, custody, visitation, support, mental commitment, trade secrets, and abuse, restraining and stalking order proceedings is prohibited.  Also, coverage of sex offense proceedings will be prohibited at the victim’s request. Upon request, those covering a proceeding must provide a copy of the coverage to the court and “any other person, if the requestor pays actual copying expense.”
 
Courts may adopt local rules to establish procedural requirements governing media access.

 
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Pennsylvania

Allows Cameras? No
Does Not Allow Cameras? No
Partial Allowance of Cameras? Yes
Audio or Video Webcast? Yes
Media Guide Available? No

 
Photography and broadcasting of judicial proceedings are generally prohibited in both civil and criminal trials.  Canon 3A(7)  of the Code of Judicial Conduct governs judges’ ability to prohibit or allow electronic coverage of court proceedings.  Canon 3(A)(7) permits judges to authorize media coverage of non-jury civil  proceedings.  Coverage of support, custody, and divorce proceedings is prohibited. A judge may only authorize coverage with the consent of the parties.  Additionally, coverage of objecting witnesses is prohibited. Media wishing to seek permission to cover a proceeding should speak in advance with the courtroom staff, as the presiding judge must expressly authorize coverage.  Local rules may vary.

Pennsylvania Rules for Magisterial District Judges Rule 7 formerly prohibited coverage in proceedings before District Justices.  However, the Pennsylvania legislature reserved the rule on September 18, 2014.

Pennsylvania Rules of Criminal Procedure Rule 112 prohibits coverage of any judicial proceedings and transmission of communications by phone, radio, television, or other advanced communication technology.  

The Supreme Court allows the Pennsylvania Cable Network (PCN) to record its proceedings and broadcast the proceedings after approval.  Section § 63.9 of the Internal Operating Procedures of the Supreme Court governs PCN’s coverage of the high court.  PCN is allowed to record all proceedings in front of the Supreme Court that are not sealed; the proceedings will not be broadcast live.  The Supreme Court may limit, terminate, or remove camera personnel to protect the rights of the parties of the proceedings.  Except by direction of the Supreme Court to limit the coverage, PCN must broadcast the proceedings “gavel-to-gavel.”  Section § 63.9 mandates that only robotic cameras be used to record proceedings, and that recording equipment shall not be distracting.  

Rules regarding the use of personal electronic devices in the courtroom vary from court to court.  For example, the Court of Common Pleas of Allegheny County prohibits the use of all electronic devices within the Family Law Center.  This prohibition includes video cameras, cell phones, cell phones with cameras, PDAs, or any other device that would permit the user to take pictures, transmit communications, or record sound.  

Another example of rules regarding the use of personal electronic devices in the courtroom is the high-profile Sandusky criminal trial.  In the Sandusky trial, Judge John M. Cleland in May 2012 issued a Decorum Order that would allow credentialed members of the media to text or tweet from the courtroom, using cell phones, laptops, or other electronic devices, so long as the members did not take or transmit photographs and did not transmit any verbatim account of the proceedings.  

According to Judge Cleland, this Decorum Order was allowed under Criminal Procedure Rule 112 and Code of Judicial Conduct Canon 3A(7)  because texting and  tweeting is distinct from broadcasting.  In June 2012, Judge Cleland rescinded the portion of the Decorum Order that allowed for texting and tweeting.  Judge Cleland reasoned that his May  order was confusing to reporters, and he cited the Criminal  Procedure Rules Committee’s January 2012 Personal  Communications Devices in the Courtroom Report that stated that  tweeting and blogging from the courtroom is not allowed under  Rule 112.  Therefore, for the high-profile Sandusky criminal trial, reporters were allowed to possess and use electronic devices as “tools of the trade,” but were not allowed to use electronic devices to transmit any type of communication from the courtroom.  


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Rhode Island

Allows Cameras? No
Does Not Allow Cameras? No
Partial Allowance of Cameras? Yes
Audio or Video Webcast? No
Media Guide Available? Yes

 
The courts of Rhode Island permit extended media coverage, however a judge has “sole discretion” to “entirely exclude media coverage of any proceeding or trial over which he or she presides.”  Exclusion by the trial court may also be based on a party’s request for non-coverage.  Coverage of juvenile, adoption or any other matters in the Family Court “in which juveniles are significant participants” is prohibited.

Coverage of hearings which take place outside of the jury’s presence (e.g., hearings regarding motion to suppress evidence) is not permitted.  After the jury has been impaneled, individual jurors may be photographed, with their consent.  Where photographing of the jury is unavoidable, close-ups that clearly identify individual jurors are not permitted.

 
Only one television camera operated by one photographer are allowed in trial courts, and no more than two television cameras operated by one photographer each are allowed in appellate courts.  The media must arrange for any pooling arrangements.
 
Courthouse rules strictly prohibit the use of cell phones, including the use of cell phones for camera and video, in Rhode Island courtrooms.  In addition, the courthouse rules prohibit photographic and audio-visual equipment of any type.    

 
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Other links
 
(1)   Media Guide for Reporters:  Rhode Island Judiciary

(2)   Courthouse Rules
 

South Carolina

 
Allows Cameras? Yes
Does Not Allow Cameras? No
Partial Allowance of Cameras? No
Audio or Video Webcast? Yes
Media Guide Available? No
 
Extended media coverage is permitted, but presiding judges are given significant discretion to limit coverage.  Those wishing to cover a proceeding must give the presiding judge “reasonable notice” of the request for coverage, and the judge may request a written notice.  The judge may also refuse, limit or terminate media coverage of an entire case, portions thereof, or testimony of particular witnesses.  Coverage of prospective jurors is prohibited and members of the jury may not be photographed except when they happen to be in the background of other subjects being photographed.  Two television cameras and two still-photographers are allowed in the courtroom at one time, and the media are responsible for any pooling arrangements.  Media personnel’s equipment and clothing must not “bear the insignia or marking of any media agency,” and the cameraperson must wear “appropriate business attire.”

The use of audible pagers, cell phones, and any other personal communication device by any attorneys, jurors, staff members, litigants, witnesses, or members of the general public, is banned in all courtrooms.


 
 

South Dakota
 

Allows Cameras? No
Does Not Allow Cameras? No
Partial Allowance of Cameras? Yes
Audio or Video Webcast? Yes
Media Guide Available? No

 
Extended coverage of trial and intermediate appellate court proceedings is permitted with the consent of the judge and all parties at least one week prior to the commencement of trial.  Supreme Court Rules 10-8 and 10-9 effectively adopted recommendations of the Study of Cameras in the Courtroom Committee effective July 1, 2011.  Members of the jury may not be photographed and proceedings outside the presence of the jury are not to be recorded.  The court has discretion over the type and quantity of equipment to be used.  The court is also entitled to a copy of any audio or video recordings for archiving.

Expanded media coverage of Supreme Court proceedings is permitted.  Under Rule 15-24-6, the court can limit media coverage where it is necessary in the interest of justice.  The court has the right to request a copy of any recordings or published photographs of the proceedings.

South Dakota’s policies on electronic devices in courtrooms vary from court to court.  For example, in the Second Judicial Circuit, individuals may possess cell  phones in courtrooms, but the phones must be turned off or silent.  In addition, the Second Judicial Circuit explicitly prohibits the use of the recording or camera function on cell phones.  The Third Judicial Circuit requires that cell phones, pagers and beepers are off before individuals enter the courtroom; those devices are not allowed to be activated while inside the courtroom.  The Fourth Judicial Circuit distinguishes between traditional cell phones and cell phones with cameras.  Traditional cell phones are allowed in the courthouse and must be turned off or silent.  Cell phones with cameras are not allowed in the courthouse.


 

Tennessee

Allows Cameras? Yes
Does Not Allow Cameras? No
Partial Allowance of Cameras? No
Audio or Video Webcast? Yes
Media Guide Available? Yes

 
Extended coverage is permitted in all courts.  Requests for coverage must be made in writing to the presiding judge not less than two business days before the proceeding.  Coverage of a witness, party or victim who is a minor is prohibited except when a minor is being tried for a criminal offense as an adult.  Coverage of the jury selection and the jurors during the proceeding is also prohibited.
 
In juvenile court proceedings, the court will notify parties and their counsel that a request for coverage has been made and prior to the beginning of the proceedings, the court will advise the accused, the parties and the witnesses of their right to object.  Objections by a witness in a juvenile case will limit coverage of that witness.  Objections to coverage by the accused in a juvenile criminal case or any party in a juvenile civil action will prohibit coverage of the entire proceeding.
 
Only two television cameras and two still photographers, using not more than two cameras each, are allowed in the courtroom at one time.  The media are responsible for any pooling arrangements.
 
Appellate review of a presiding judge’s decision to terminate, suspend, limit, or exclude media coverage shall be in accordance with Rule 10 of the Tennessee Rules of Appellate Procedure.

 
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This page updated December 2015