RTDNA Cameras in the Courts: Texas-Wyoming

 
Texas

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

 
Rule 18c, Texas Rules of Civil Procedure, and Rule 14, Texas Rules of Appellate Procedure, provide for the recording and broadcasting of civil court proceedings.
 
Rule 18c allows television, radio and photographic coverage with the consent of the trial judge, the parties and each witness to be covered.  Coverage also may not “unduly distract participants or impair the dignity of the proceedings.”
 
Rule 14 technically permits coverage of civil and criminal appellate proceedings.  Requests for coverage at the appellate level must be filed five days prior to the proceeding, and coverage may be subject to other limitations imposed by the presiding judge(s).  Those seeking coverage at the trial level should check with the local court, as the Supreme Court has approved local rules submitted by counties and cities in the state to allow coverage of trial proceedings and will continue to do so.
 
The Supreme Court of Texas provides live video and archived audio and video webcasts of oral arguments.

 
Authority
 

(1)   Texas Rules of Civil Procedure 18c

(2)   Texas Rules of Appellate Procedure 14


Other links

 

Utah

Allows Cameras? No
Does Not Allow Cameras? No
Partial Allowance of Cameras? Yes
Audio or Video Webcast? Yes
Media Guide Available? No
 
Rule 4-401.01 does not distinguish between trial and appellate level courts, and creates a presumption that electronic media coverage is permitted in all courts.  A judge may limit or prohibit electronic media coverage, but the judge must find a compelling reason to restrict coverage.  News reporters—defined in part as “any person who gathers, records, photographs, reports, or publishes information for the primary purpose of disseminating  news and information to the public”—must file a written request  for permission to electronically cover a proceeding 24 hours in  advance of the proceeding.   
 
The presiding judges may restrict the time, place, and manner of using a portable electronic device to maintain safety, decorum, and order of common areas of the courthouse, such as lobbies and corridors.  A person may silently use a portable electronic device inside a courtroom.  A person may not use a portable electronic device to record or transmit images or sound of court proceedings except in accordance with Rule 4-401.01.

 
Authority 
 

 
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Vermont

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 of Supreme Court proceedings is permitted without the consent of the full court, but the Chief Justice has discretion to prohibit coverage.  Audio recording of conferences between members of the Court, between co-counsel or between counsel and client is prohibited.  Only two television cameras, each operated by one cameraperson, and one still photographer, using not more than two cameras, are permitted in the Supreme Court at any one time.
 
At the trial level, coverage is permitted in the courtroom and in immediately adjacent areas that are generally open to the public.  Consent of parties and witnesses is not required, but the trial judge has discretion to prohibit, terminate, limit or postpone coverage on the judge’s own motion or on a motion of a party or request of a witness.
 
Coverage of jurors is prohibited, except in the background when courtroom coverage would be otherwise impossible.  While the rules do not ban coverage of specific types of cases, the reporter’s note accompanying the rule suggests that coverage may be inappropriate for sex offense, domestic relations, trade secret cases or offenses in which the victim is a minor.  This issue is left to the discretion of the trial judge to evaluate on a case-by-case basis.  No proceeding that is closed to the public, by statute, may be covered.  Only one television camera, operated by one cameraperson, and one still photographer, using not more than two cameras, are permitted in the courtroom at any one time.  The media are responsible for any pooling arrangements.  There is no right to an interlocutory appeal of a decision to prohibit or limit coverage.

Administrative Directive No. 28 governs the use of electronic devices in the courthouse.  Under this directive, individuals may bring with them into the courthouse all cell phones, pagers, computers, and other electronic devices. These devices must be turned off before the individual enters the courtroom.  Inside the courtroom, an individual may only take out and use electronic devices with the judge’s permission.  An individual may use the recording devices on cell phones, like cameras and video recorders, only with the consent of the person being photographed.    


 

Virginia

Allows Cameras? Yes
Does Not Allow Cameras? No
Partial Allowance of Cameras? No
Audio or Video Webcast? Yes
Media Guide Available? Yes
 
Extended media coverage of both trial and appellate proceedings is permitted at the sole discretion of the trial judge.  Coverage of jurors as well as certain kinds of witnesses (police informants, minors, undercover agents and victims and families of victims of sexual offenses) is prohibited.  Media coverage of adoption, juvenile, child custody, divorce, spousal support, sexual offense, trade secret and in camera proceedings and hearings on motions to suppress evidence is prohibited as well.  Not more than two television cameras and one still photographer (using no more than two cameras) are allowed in the courtroom at any one time, and the media are responsible for any pooling arrangements.

Policies concerning electronic devices in courtrooms vary from court to court.  For example, in the Virginia Supreme Court, electronic devices of any kind are prohibited.  In one district court, Campbell General District Court, individuals may not bring cell phones inside courthouse buildings.  Campbell General District Court makes an exception for counsel, law enforcement, social workers, court service representatives, probation officers, and mediators.

Effective September 9, 2013, counsel presenting oral argument before the Virginia Supreme Court, or a panel thereof, is permitted to bring into the courtroom or panel room a laptop, tablet, or other personal computer solely for use during the presentation of oral argument.  The computer cannot be used to record any oral argument or other proceeding or to take still photos or make a video recording.  The laptop must be in silent mode.  Further, it cannot be used to "tweet," email, instant message, or otherwise communicate while in the courtroom or panel room and cannot be used to access the Internet via any method.      

 
Authority

 
(1)   Va. Code Ann. § 19.2-266.

 
 

Washington

Allows Cameras? Yes
Does Not Allow Cameras? No
Partial Allowance of Cameras? No
Audio or Video Webcast? Yes
Media Guide Available? Yes
 
The Courts of Washington permit extended media coverage of trial and appellate courtroom proceedings.  The presiding judge may place conditions on the coverage, and the judge must expressly grant permission and ensure that the media personnel will not distract participants or impair the dignity of the proceedings.  If a judge finds that media coverage should be limited, he or she must make, on the record, particularized findings that relate to specific circumstances of the proceeding.  Judges may not rely on “generalized views” to limit media coverage.
 
The Bench-Bar-Press Committee, established in 1963, seeks to “foster better understanding and working relationships between judges, lawyers and journalists who cover legal issues and courtroom stories.”  In addition to moderating disputes between the bench and the press, the Committee promulgates a nonbinding Statement of Principles as well as an annual report of its “Fire Brigade” (also known as its Liaison Committee).

 
Authority
 
 

West Virginia

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

 
West Virginia’s rules permit coverage of both trial and appellate proceedings but also permit a presiding judge to terminate coverage if he or she “determines that coverage will impede justice or create unfairness for any party.”  Requests for media coverage must be made at least one day in advance of the proceeding.  The presiding judge may sustain or deny objections made by parties, witnesses and counsel to the coverage of any portion of a proceeding.  Audio coverage of attorney-client meetings or any other conferences conducted between and among attorneys, clients, or the presiding judge is prohibited.  Coverage that shows the face of any juror or makes the identity of any juror discernible is prohibited without juror approval.  Only one television camera and one still photographer are allowed in the courtroom at any one time, and the media are responsible for any pooling arrangements.
 
The Supreme Court of Appeals of West Virginia provides a live Web cast of oral arguments.

 
 

Wisconsin

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, but the presiding judge retains the authority to determine whether coverage should occur and, upon a finding of cause, to prohibit coverage.  The trial judge retains the power, authority and responsibility to control the conduct of proceedings, including the authority over the inclusion or exclusion of the media and the public at particular proceedings or during the testimony of particular witnesses under the experimental and permanent guidelines.  A presumption of validity attends objections to coverage of participants in cases involving the victims of crimes (including sex crimes), police informants, undercover agents, juveniles, relocated witnesses, divorce, trade secrets, and motions to suppress evidence.  An individual juror may be photographed only after his or her consent has been obtained.  Photographs of the jury are permitted in courtrooms where the jury is part of the unavoidable background, but close-ups, which enable jurors to be clearly identified, are prohibited.  Audio coverage of conferences between an attorney and a client, co-counsel, or attorneys and the trial judge is also prohibited.  Three television cameras and three still photographers, using not more than 2 cameras each, are allowed in the courtroom to cover a proceeding. Disputes regarding a court’s application of Chapter 61 are treated as administrative matters, which may not be appealed.

The Wisconsin Supreme Court provides audio recordings or oral arguments on its Web site, with archives dating back to September 1997.


 
 

Wyoming

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 allowed at both the appellate and trial court levels. A request for media coverage must be submitted 24 hours or more prior to the proceedings. The media may not make any close-up photography or visual recording of the members of the jury, nor may it make an audio recording of conferences between attorney and client or between counsel and the presiding judge. Additionally, equipment may not be moved during a proceeding. The trial judge has broad discretion in deciding whether there is cause for prohibition of coverage. Requests to limit media coverage enjoy a presumption of validity in cases involving the victims of crimes, confidential informants, and undercover agents, as well as in evidentiary suppression hearings.

The privilege to photograph, televise or record court proceedings may be exercised only by persons or organizations which are part of the accredited news media.  In the Wyoming Supreme Court, absent express authorization by the court, individuals attending or participating in open court or confidential proceedings cannot use or operate any camera, video recording device, or audio recording device to record, broadcast, or photograph the proceedings.  Except as provided, individuals attending or participating in open court or confidential proceedings cannot use a Wireless Communication Device during the proceedings, including mobile phones, cellular devices, PDAs, and computers.  Such devices must be completely turned off and not merely set to “vibrate” or a similar setting.


 
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This page updated November 2015