The Kansas Supreme Court has amended its Rule 1001 that covers electronic and photographic media coverage of judicial proceedings.
The changes have been made in light of new technologies available to those who cover the court system in Kansas.
"Basically, the amended rules leave total discretion on what kinds of devices may be utilized inside the courtroom to the presiding judge," said Doug Anstaett, executive director of the Kansas Press Association. "Judges who feel comfortable allowing such use will continue the practice, while those who see electronic devices as intrusive to the court process will probably deny their use."
The preface on the court document reads: "Policies developed to address the court's concerns should include enough flexibility to take into consideration that electronic devices have become a necessary tool for court observers, journalists and participants and continue to rapidly change and evolve. The courts should champion the enhanced access and the transparency made possible by use of these devices while protecting the integrity of proceedings within the courtroom."
Possession of cell phones, laptops, tablets, audio recorders, still or video cameras and other electronic devices that can broadcast, record or take photographs will be permitted, but their use is prohibited in the courtroom unless the presiding judge makes an exception.
The rule states: News media , educational media and others "must request specific permission in advance to utilize" such devices.
Once permission is granted, however, there are conditions for use:
• The privilege to photograph, record or provide real-time coverage of court proceedings may be exercised only by those obtaining prior permission of the court. Video, photography, audio reproductions and other electronic communications may be used only for the purpose of education or news dissemination only.
• The judge must be given at least one week's notice of the request, but may waive this requirement for good cause.
• The judge is still in control of the proceedings and may disallow possession of electronic devices at a proceeding or during the testimony of a particular witness.
• Audio recording of attorney-client conferences or among counsel or opposing counsel and the judge are prohibited. Photographing of such a conference is prohibited.
• Focusing on or photographing materials on counsel tables or in designated areas is prohibited.
• Individual juror may not be photographed. In a courtroom in which photography is impossible without including the jury as part of the unavoidable background, photography is permitted as long as no close-ups identify individual jurors.
• The trial judge must prohibit the audio recording and photographing of a participant in a court proceeding if the participant so requests and the participant is a victim or witness of a crime, a police informant, an undercover agent, or a relocated witness or juvenile or if the hearing is an evidentiary suppression hearing, a divorce proceeding or a case involving trade secrets. However, subject to a court directive to the contrary, the news media may record and photograph a juvenile who is being prosecuted as an adult.
To read the entire court rule, go here.
The statement from the court said: "Policies developed to address the court's concerns should include enough flexibility to take into consideration that electronic devices have become a necessary tool for court observers, journalists and participants and continue to rapidly change and evolve. The courts should champion the enhanced access and the transparency made possible by use of these devices while protecting the integrity of proceedings within the courtroom."