IN THE COURTROOM:
AND GUIDELINES FOR THEIR USE
As of October 1, 2001
The use of
cameras in the courtroom was one of the hottest legal issues of the 1990's.
Maryland enacted Rule 16-109 to address how, when, and where cameras and
other broadcasting equipment may be used during judiciary proceedings.
Members of the media should be aware of the following points when preparing
to photograph, film, record, or otherwise televise a trial:
FOR TRIAL COURT PROCEEDINGS ONLY
In Maryland trial courts, media coverage is permitted only
for civil, not criminal, proceedings. (Maryland Annotated
Code, Criminal Procedure/Title 1. Definitions; General Provisions/Subtitle
2. General Provisions/§ 1-201. Recording or broadcasting
is only permitted in a trial court if all parties to the proceeding have
agreed to it, by filing their written consent in the record. However,
if any of the following are parties, they may be filmed/photographed without
- [a representative
of] a federal, state, or local government;
- [a representative
of] a government agency or subdivision;
- an individual
suing, or being sued, in his official governmental capacity.
consent is given, it may not be withdrawn — but any
party, at any time, may move to terminate or limit coverage.
than one portable television camera or videotape electronic camera, operated
by only one person, is permitted, from each media organization.
APPELLATE COURT PROCEEDINGS ONLY
from the parties is required to film/record at the appellate level. However,
any involved party may move, at any time, to terminate or limit coverage.
No more than two television cameras, each operated by one
person, are allowed from each media organization. However,
the presiding judge may limit this to one camera per media
MEDIA COVERAGE AT BOTH TRIAL AND APPELLATE COURT LEVELS
for media coverage must be submitted in writing to the clerk of the court
where the proceedings will be held, at least five days before
the trial begins. The request must specifically identify the proceeding
to be covered. A request that is submitted late, or otherwise doesn’t
comply, may still be honored if “good cause” can be shown. If proceedings are extended for unusual circumstances (besides normal
recesses, weekends, or holidays), then the media organization must submit
a new request to continue coverage at the later date.
Once permission is granted, the following rules apply. These rules are
intended not only to keep cameras and other equipment from disturbing
courtroom proceedings, but also, to benefit you. For example, while photographers
must stay in one spot throughout the trial, we have learned from experience
the best, “tried-and-true” vantage points — which is
where you will be stationed. The rules also guard against giving one media
group an unfair advantage over another.
movie, and still photography camera equipment should be set up outside
the courtroom rail, or if there is no rail, then in the area reserved
for spectators. (The clerk of the court will direct you to your assigned
spots.) Operators must remain in their assigned spots throughout the
proceedings, and cannot move around.
one still photographer is permitted from each media group. He/she may
use up to two cameras, with no more than two lenses per camera. Still
photographers must stay in their assigned spots throughout the trial,
and may not make any movements or assume positions that might be distracting.
No artificial lighting devices may be used. Still cameras should be
set up on a tripod. Even if hand-held cameras are used, the operator
must remain in his/her assigned spot, and cannot move around. Also,
the photographer must stay seated while taking photographs, unless he/she
• in or beyond the last row of spectators’
• in an aisle outside the spectators’
one audio system is allowed for each media group. Existing
audio systems in the courtroom should be sufficient for
pickup. If no suitable audio system has been set up, then
the media organization may install unobtrusive microphones
and related wiring in places designated in advance by the
presiding judge. Any microphones at the judge’s bench
and at counsel tables should have temporary cutoff switches.
[Only directional microphones (no parabolic or similar mikes)
may be mounted on TV or film cameras.]
The equipment used should not produce distracting sounds
or lights. On a related note, to avoid disturbing the proceedings,
cellular phones and laptop computers should be turned off,
and pagers should be set to vibrate, rather than beep, while
inside the courtroom.
may only set up their equipment before proceedings begin, and cannot
break down until after the day’s last trial is finished, unless
special permission is granted. Changing of film or lenses is only allowed
during recesses. Equipment operators may not enter or exit while court
is in session. However, permission may be granted for quick shoots in
pooling: Two or more media agencies of the same type may cover
the proceedings under a “pooling” arrangement. However,
the agencies should agree in advance on how to pool their resources,
while still complying with these rules. If a problem arises, the presiding
judge will not mediate the dispute. Instead, he/she may exclude the
media organizations involved from covering the trial.
OUTSIDE THE COURTROOM IS PROHIBITED
of the media should also be aware of rules regarding filming and photography
outside the courtroom, but still within the courthouse. In this situation,
the media is not permitted to film/photograph any person present for a
judicial or grand jury proceeding. Coverage is only allowed during proceedings
taking place inside the courtroom, in the presence of the presiding judge.
MAY NOT BE TELEVISED, FILMED, OR RECORDED BY THE MEDIA
judge may, at his discretion, refuse to allow coverage in cases where
special circumstances are involved — for example, where coverage
may cause unfairness, danger, or undue embarrassment to one of the parties
involved, or if televising the trial might hinder law enforcement efforts.
Media coverage must not interfere with any person’s right to a fair
and impartial trial, or otherwise affect the dignity and decorum of the
Certain aspects of a trial are always off-limits to cameras/recording
(FYI: In the appellate
court, where cases are heard by several judges, the term “presiding
judge”refers to the Chief Judge. If he’s not involved in the
case, then it means the senior judge of the panel hearing it.)
held in chambers;
closed to the public;
or spectators; and
- the audio
portion of private conferences between an attorney and a client, witness,
or aide; between attorneys; between counsel and the judge at the bench;
or any other bench conferences.