RULE GR 16 COURTROOM PHOTOGRAPHY AND RECORDING BY THE NEWS MEDIA (a) Video and audio recording and still photography by the news media are allowed in the courtroom during and between sessions, provided (1) that permission shall have first been expressly granted by the judge; and (2) that media personnel not, by their appearance or conduct, distract participants in the proceedings or otherwise adversely affect the dignity and fairness of the proceedings. (b) The judge shall exercise reasonable discretion in prescribing conditions and limitations with which media personnel shall comply. (c) If the judge finds that sufficient reasons exist to warrant limitations on courtroom photography or recording, the judge shall make particularized findings on the records at the time of announcing the limitations. This may be done either orally or in a written order. In determining what, if any, limitations should be imposed, the judge shall be guided by the following principles: (1) Open access is presumed; limitations on access must be supported by reasons found by the judge to be sufficiently compelling to outweigh that presumption; (2) Prior to imposing any limitations on courtroom photography or recording, the judge shall, upon request, hear from any party and from any other person or entity deemed appropriate by the judge; and (3) Any reasons found sufficient to support limitations on courtroom photography or recording shall relate to the specific circumstances of the case before the court rather than reflecting merely generalized views. [Adopted effective December 27, 1991; amended effective January 4, 2005.] Comment Before 1991 when GR 16 on “Cameras in the Courtroom” was first adopted, the subject had only been addressed in the Code of Judicial Conduct’s Canon 3(A)(7). The intent of the 1991 change was to make clear both that cameras were fully accepted in Washington courtrooms and also that broad discretion was vested in the court to decide what, if any, limitations should be imposed. In subsequent experience, both judges and the media have perceived a need for greater guidance as to how that judicial discretion should be exercised in a particular case. This 2003 amendment to GR 16 is intended to fill that practical need. While not providing much guidance for the court’s exercise of discretion, the Canon did contain some “illustrative guidelines” on how media personnel should conduct themselves while covering the courts. Although these guidelines were no longer a part of the rule once GR 16 was adopted, they continued to be published in the accompanying Comment. Some portions of those guidelines have now become outdated and others are superseded by language in the new GR 16. Because there continues to be potential value in some of the remaining guidelines, they will be here set out in redacted form: ILLUSTRATIVE BROADCAST GUIDELINES 1. Officers of Court. Broadcast newspersons should advise the bailiff prior to the start of a court session that they desire to electronically record and/or broadcast live from within the courtroom. The bailiff may have prior instructions from the judge as to where the broadcast reporter and/or camera operator may position themselves. In the absence of any directions from the judge or bailiff, the position should be behind the front row of spectator seats by the least used aisleway or other unobtrusive but viable location. 2. Pooling. Unless the judge directs otherwise, no more than one television camera should be taking pictures in the courtroom at any one time. It should be the responsibility of each broadcast news representative present at the opening of each session of court to achieve an understanding with all other broadcast representatives as to how they will pool their photographic coverage. This understanding should be reached outside the courtroom and without imposing on the judge or court personnel. 3. Broadcast Equipment. All running wires used should be securely taped to the floor. All broadcast equipment should be handled as inconspicuously and quietly as reasonably possible. Sufficient film and/or tape capacities should be provided to obviate film and/or tape changes except during court recess. No additional lights should be used without the specific approval of the presiding judge. 4. Decorum. Camera operators should not move tripod- mounted cameras except during court recess. All broadcast equipment should be in place and ready to function no less than 15 minutes before the beginning of each session of court. An accompanying set of “Illustrative Print Media Guidelines” contained substantially the same provisions from print media personnel. The only additional matters addressed were that still photographers should use cameras operating quietly and without a flash and they should not “assume body positions inappropriate for spectators.”
Click here to view in a PDF.
|Courts | Organizations | News | Opinions | Rules | Forms | Directory | Library|
|Back to Top | Privacy and Disclaimer Notices|