WSR 04-07-039

RULES OF COURT

STATE SUPREME COURT


[ March 8, 2004 ]

IN THE MATTER OF THE ADOPTION OF THE PROPOSED AMENDMENT TO GR 16 )

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ORDER

NO. 25700-A-789


The Bench-Bar-Press Committee having recommended the adoption of the proposed amendment to GR 16, and the Court having approved the proposed amendment for publication;

Now, therefore, it is hereby

ORDERED:

(a) That pursuant to the provisions of GR 9(f), the proposed amendment as attached hereto is to be published expeditiously for comment in the Washington Reports, Washington Register, Washington State Bar Association and Administrative Office of the Court's websites.

(b) The purpose statement as required by GR 9(d), is published solely for the information of the Bench, Bar and other interested parties.

(c) Comments are to be submitted to the Clerk of the Supreme Court by either U.S. Mail or Internet E-Mail by no later than 60 days from the published date in the Washington Reports. Comments may be sent to the following addresses: Supreme Court Clerk's Office, P.O. Box 40929, Olympia, Washington 98504-0929, or Lisa.Bausch@courts.wa.gov. Comments submitted by e-mail message must be limited to 1500 words.

DATED at Olympia, Washington this 8th day of March, 2004.
For the Court
Gerry L. Alexander
CHIEF JUSTICE



GR 9 COVER SHEET



Suggested Amendment


CAMERAS IN THE COURTROOM (GR 16)

COURTROOM PHOTOGRAPHY AND RECORDING




Purpose: Before 1991 when GR 16 "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, helping judges a day-to-day basis properly comply with the requirements of the rule.


GR 16 CAMERAS IN THE COURTROOM

COURTROOM PHOTOGRAPHY AND RECORDING



(a) Broadcasting, televising, recording, and taking photographs in the courtroom is authorized during sessions of the court, including recesses between session, under the following conditions: Video and audio recording and still photography are allowed in the courtroom during and between sessions, provided

(1) that permission shall have first been expressly granted by the judge under such conditions as the judge may prescribe; and

(2) The that media personnel will not, by their appearance or conduct, distract participants or impair the dignity of the proceedings 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 record at the time of announcing the limitations. 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 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 be specific to the circumstances of the case before the court rather than reflecting merely general concerns.

Comment

While the Illustrative Broadcast Guidelines and Illustrative Print Media Guidelines formerly contained in Code of Judicial Conduct Canon 3 (A)(7) are not adopted as a part of this rule, they may continue to serve the bench, bar and press as examples of how cameras in the courtroom may be addressed.


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. The judge has the authority to direct whether broadcast equipment may be taken within the courtroom. 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 (as presently constructed) at any one time. Where coverage is by both radio and television, the microphones used by television should also serve for radio and radio should be permitted to feed from the television sound system. Multiple radio feeds, if any, should be provided by a junction box. 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 who will function at any given time, or, in the alternative, how they will pool their photographic coverage. This understanding should be reached outside the courtroom and without imposing on the judge or court personnel.

Broadcast coverage outside the courtroom should be handled with care and discretion, but need not be pooled.

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 camera should give any indication of whether it is or is not operating such as a red light on some studio cameras. No additional lights should be used without the specific approval of the presiding judge and then only as the judge may specifically approve as may be needed in the case of appellate hearings.

4. Decorum. Broadcast representatives' dress should not set them apart unduly from other trial spectators. Camera operators should not move tripod-mounted cameras except during court recesses. All broadcast equipment should be in place and ready to function no less than 15 minutes before the beginning of each session of court.


ILLUSTRATIVE PRINT MEDIA GUIDELINES


1. The judge has authority to direct whether photographs may be taken within the courtroom. The photographer should advise the bailiff, prior to the start of a court session, that photographs are desired. The bailiff may have prior instructions from the judge as to where the photographer may be positioned. In the absence of any directions from the judge or bailiff, the photographer should remain behind the front row of spectator seats.

2. Unless the judge directs otherwise, no more than one still picture photographer is to be taking pictures in the courtroom at any one time. It is the responsibility of each photographer present at the opening of each session of court to achieve an understanding with all other photographers present as to which will function at any given time, or, in the alternative, how they will pool their photographic coverage. This understanding must be reached outside the courtroom and without imposing on the judge or court personnel.

3. The photographers' dress and equipment should not set them apart unduly from other trial spectators. Cameras which operate without flash and with a minimum of noise should be utilized.

4. The photographer's movements in and out of the courtroom and while taking pictures should be unobtrusive. The photographer should not, for example, assume body positions inappropriate for spectators.


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 recesses. 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 for 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."

Reviser's note: The typographical errors in the above material occurred in the copy filed by the State Supreme Court and appear in the Register pursuant to the requirements of RCW 34.08.040.

Legislature Code Reviser 

Register

Washington State Code Reviser's Office