The Iowa Supreme Court has instituted the most sweeping changes to its rules for Expanded News Media Coverage since the program was adopted in 1979.
The amended rules are designed to reflect changing communications technologies and newsgathering practices. Beginning May 1, 2014, journalists have been allowed to provide live coverage of Iowa court proceedings using such techniques as texting, Tweeting and blogging, and mobile technologies like smart phones and tablet computers.
In addition, the definition of “news media” representatives allowed to participate in electronic coverage of the judiciary was broadened to include non-mainstream journalists.
The changes were the result of a yearlong review of Chapter 25 of the Iowa Court Rules by a committee that included journalists, judges, a county attorney, a court administrator and a private practice attorney. Iowa Supreme Court Justice Bruce Zager chaired the committee. The court and committee received public comment on the proposed changes and incorporated suggestions into the final recommendation.
“The amended rules continue to allow transparency of court processes while not disrupting court proceedings or interfering with individual rights,” according to the court order changing the rules.
The Supreme Court sent information about the changes to judges around the state, and the Iowa Freedom of Information Council, the central coordinator of Expanded News Media Coverage, worked with its regional coordinators to educate journalists about the updated rules and procedures.
For further information, contact:
Iowa Freedom of Information Council
P.O. Box 8002
Des Moines, Iowa 50301
To learn more about Iowa’s expanded news media coverage program, click on the following links:
History of Expanded Media Coverage of Iowa Courts
May 8, 1979: Chief Justice W. Ward Reynoldson appointed a committee to study whether cameras should be allowed in Iowa courtrooms to enhance public awareness and understanding of the judicial process. Justice J.L. Larson was the committee chair.
November 21, 1979: Upon recommendation of the committee, the Iowa Supreme Court agreed to suspend the ban against cameras in the courtroom for a one-year experiment to begin January 1, 1980.
January 14, 1980: The first trial to be covered under Expanded Media Coverage (EMC) began in Waterloo, Black Hawk County. Michael Earl Moses was convicted of first degree murder. Grant Price, news director of KWWL-TV, Waterloo, was the media coordinator for the trial coverage.
December 12, 1980: The Supreme Court extended the EMC experiment for one more year.
December 22, 1981: Upon recommendation of the EMC committee, the Supreme Court agreed to “permanent” revision of Canon 3B to allow expanded media coverage in Iowa courtrooms. (The EMC rules are now Iowa Court Rules, Chapter 25.)
The Council was designated by the Iowa Supreme Court as the coordinator for the EMC, notifying the judges and attorneys involved when EMC is requested.
May 1, 2014: The rules were amended as the Rules for Expanded News Media Coverage. The amended rules accommodated non-traditional news media and evolving digital reporting technologies.
Iowa Court Rules, Chapter 25: Rules for expanded news media coverage
Effective May 1, 2014, as amended on July 22, 2016
25.1 Definitions. As used in this chapter:
25.1(1) “Expanded news media coverage” includes broadcasting, recording, photographing, and live electronic reporting of judicial proceedings by the news media for gathering and disseminating news in any medium. Expanded news media coverage is limited to the news media unless otherwise ordered by the judicial officer.
25.1(2) “Good cause” for purposes of exclusion under these rules means that coverage will have a substantial effect upon the objector that would be qualitatively different from the effect on members of the public in general.
25.1(3) “Judicial officer” means the magistrate, district associate judge or district judge presiding in a trial court proceeding or the presiding judge or justice in an appellate proceeding.
25.1(4) “Judicial proceedings” or“proceedings” includes all public trials, hearings or other proceedings in a trial or appellate court, for which expanded news media coverage is requested, except those specifically excluded by these rules.
25.1(5) “News media” includes any person who regularly gathers, prepares, photographs, records, writes, edits, reports, or publishes news or information about matters of public interest in any medium and who successfully applies to participate in expanded news media coverage and agrees to comply with all court rules.
25.1(6) “News media coordinator” includes news media coordinating councils as well as the designees of such coordinators or councils.
25.2 General. Expanded news media coverage of judicial proceedings will be permitted under the following conditions:
25.2(1) Prior authorization. No expanded news media coverage shall occur without prior express authorization from the judicial officer, who may prescribe conditions of coverage as provided in this chapter.
25.2(2) Rights to a fair trial. Expanded news media coverage of a proceeding is permitted, unless the judicial officer concludes, for reasons stated on the record, that under the circumstances of the particular proceeding such coverage would materially interfere with the rights of the parties to a fair trial.
25.2(3) Coverage of witnesses.
a. Expanded news media coverage of a witness may be refused by the judicial officer upon objection and showing of good cause by the witness.
b. In prosecutions for sexual abuse, or for charges in which sexual abuse is an included offense or an essential element of the charge, no expanded news media coverage of the testimony of a victim witness is permitted unless such victim witness consents.
c. Objection by a victim or witness in any other forcible felony prosecution, and by police informants, undercover agents and relocated witnesses, shall enjoy a rebuttable presumption of validity. The presumption is rebutted by a showing that expanded news media coverage will not have a substantial effect upon the particular individual objecting to such coverage which would be qualitatively different from the effect on members of the public in general.
25.2(4) Initial appearances in criminal proceedings.
a. Oral or written requests for expanded news media coverage of initial appearances in criminal proceedings must be made to the judicial officer presiding over the proceeding. Such expanded news media coverage, if authorized by the judicial officer, is subject to objection by the prosecutor, defendant, or defendant’s attorney.
b. The defendant shall be advised by the judicial officer of the defendant’s right to orally object to expanded news media coverage prior to the commencement of the proceeding, and any such objection will be heard and determined by the judicial officer prior to the commencement of the proceeding. The judicial officer may rule on the basis of the oral objection alone.
c. A judicial officer’s authorization of expanded news media coverage of an initial appearance applies only to the particular initial appearance. Authorization for expanded news media coverage of proceedings subsequent to the initial appearance must be requested separately under rule 25.3(2)(b).
25.2(5) Private court proceedings.Expanded news media coverage is prohibited for any court proceeding which, under Iowa law, is required to be held in private. Coverage is prohibited in any juvenile, dissolution, adoption, child custody, or trade secret cases unless consent on the record is obtained from all parties, including a parent or guardian of a minor child.
25.2(6) Jury selection. Expanded news media coverage of jury selection is prohibited. Expanded news media coverage of the return of the jury’s verdict shall be permitted. In all other circumstances, however, expanded news media coverage of jurors is prohibited except to the extent it is unavoidable in the coverage of other trial participants or courtroom proceedings. The policy of these rules is to prevent unnecessary or prolonged photographic or video coverage of individual jurors.
25.2(7) Court conferences. There shall be no audio pickup or broadcast of conferences in a court proceeding between attorneys and their clients, between attorneys, between attorneys and the presiding judicial officer held at the bench or in chambers, or between judicial officers in an appellate proceeding.
25.2(8) Equipment. The quantity and types of equipment permitted in the courtroom is subject to the discretion of the judicial officer within the guidelines set out in this chapter.
25.2(9) Variance application. Notwithstanding the provisions of any of these procedural or technical rules, the judicial officer, upon application of the news media coordinator, may permit the use of equipment or techniques at variance with the rules, provided the application for variance is included in the advance notice of coverage provided for in rule 25.3(2). Objections, if any, shall be made as provided in rule 25.3(3). Ruling upon such a variance application is at the sole discretion of the judicial officer, who may allow such variances without advance application or notice if all attorneys and parties consent to the variance.
25.2(10) Limited coverage during proceeding. The judicial officer may, as to any or all news media participants, limit or terminate expanded news media coverage at any time during the proceedings in the event the judicial officer finds that rules established under this chapter, or additional rules imposed by the judicial officer, have been violated, or that substantial rights of individual participants or rights to a fair trial will be prejudiced by such manner of expanded news media coverage if it is allowed to continue.
25.2(11) Limited to news media. The privileges of expanded news media coverage provided in these rules may be exercised only by persons or organizations that are part of the news media.
25.2(12) Identification. All news media personnel authorized to use electronic devices in the courtroom must wear identification, which is clearly visible to the judicial officer and members of the jury and which states the person’s name and media affiliation.
25.2(13) Ceremonial proceedings. A judicial officer may authorize expanded news media coverage of investigative or ceremonial proceedings at variance with the procedural and technical rules of this chapter as the judicial officer sees fit.
25.3(1) News media coordinator and coordinating councils. News media coordinator and coordinating councils. Media coordinators will be appointed by the supreme court from a list of nominees provided by a representative of the news media whom the supreme court designates. The judicial officer and all interested members of the news media will work, whenever possible, with and through the appropriate news media coordinator regarding all arrangements for expanded news media coverage. The supreme court will designate the jurisdiction of each news media coordinator. In the event a news media coordinator has not been nominated or is not available for a particular proceeding, the judicial officer may deny expanded news media coverage or may appoint an individual from among local working representatives of the news media to serve as the coordinator for the proceeding.
25.3(2) Advance notice of coverage.
a. All requests for expanded news media coverage of all proceedings, except initial appearances in criminal cases, shall be made to the news media coordinator. The news media coordinator, in turn, shall inform the attorneys for all parties and the judicial officer at least seven days in advance of the time the proceeding is scheduled to begin, but these times may be extended or reduced by court order. When the proceeding is not scheduled at least seven days in advance, the news media coordinator or news media coordinating council must give notice of the request as soon as practicable after the proceeding is scheduled.
b. Notice must be filed electronically or by paper copy with the appropriate clerk of court. A copy of the notice shall be sent electronically, delivered by ordinary mail, or delivered in person to the last known contact of all attorneys of record, parties appearing without attorney representation, the appropriate court administrator, and the judicial officer expected to preside at the proceeding for which expanded news media coverage is requested.
c. Only one request for expanded news media coverage is required for all district court proceedings in the same case or trial, except that initial appearances in criminal cases require a separate request pursuant to rule 25.2(4).
d. A separate request for expanded news media coverage must be made for Iowa Supreme Court and Iowa Court of Appeals oral arguments, pursuant to rule 25.5.
d. Form 1 in rule 25.10 is the notice form for the news media coordinator to use to inform the attorneys for all parties and the judicial officer of a request for expanded news media coverage of the proceeding.
a. A party to any proceeding, except an initial appearance in a criminal case, objecting to expanded news media coverage under rule 25.2(2) must file a written objection, stating the grounds for objection, at least three days before commencement of the proceeding.
b. All witnesses must be advised by the attorney proposing to introduce their testimony of their right to object to expanded news media coverage, and all objections by witnesses under 25.2(3) must be filed prior to commencement of the proceeding.
c. Witnesses shall be entitled to the assistance of the clerk of court in providing copies of this objection to all attorneys of record, parties appearing without attorney representation, the news media coordinator for the judicial district, the district court administrator for the judicial district, and the judicial officer expected to preside in the proceeding.
d. All objections shall be heard and determined by the judicial officer prior to the commencement of the proceedings. The judicial officer may rule on the basis of the written objection alone.
e. The objecting party or witness, and all other parties, may be afforded an opportunity to present additional evidence by affidavit or by such other means as the judicial officer directs. The judicial officer in absolute discretion may permit presentation of such evidence by the news media coordinator in the same manner.
f. Time for filing of objections may be extended or reduced at the discretion of the judicial officers, who also, in appropriate circumstances, may extend the right of objection to persons not specifically provided for in this chapter.
25.4(1) Equipment specifications. Equipment used by the news media in courtrooms during judicial proceedings must be unobtrusive and must not produce distracting sound. In addition, such equipment must satisfy the following criteria, where applicable:
a. Still cameras. Still cameras and lenses must be unobtrusive, and not cause distracting lighting or sound.
b. Television cameras and related equipment. Television cameras, together with any related equipment to be located in the courtroom, must be unobtrusive in both size and appearance, without distracting sound or light. Television cameras are to be designed or modified so that participants in the judicial proceedings are unable to determine when recording is occurring.
c. Audio equipment. Microphones, wiring, and audio recording equipment must be unobtrusive and of adequate technical quality to prevent interference with the judicial proceedings being covered. The judicial officer must approve any changes in existing audio systems. No modifications of existing systems shall be made at public expense. Microphones for attorneys and judicial officers must be equipped with off/on switches to facilitate compliance with rule 25.2(7).
d. Electronic devices. All electronic devices used for recording audio, video, or still images must adhere to rule 25.4(3)(a). All other electronic devices not used for recording audio, video, or still images must be unobtrusive and not cause distracting light or sound, and are not subject to the limitations of rule 25.4(3)(a). Electronic devices include, but are not limited to, laptop computers, cellular telephones, personal digital assistants, smart phones, and tablet computers.
e. Advance approval. It is the duty of news media personnel to demonstrate to the judicial officer reasonably in advance of the proceeding that the equipment sought to be utilized meets the criteria set forth in this rule. Failure to obtain advance judicial approval for equipment may preclude its use in the proceeding. All news media equipment and personnel must be in place at least fifteen minutes prior to the scheduled time of commencement of the proceeding.
25.4(2) Lighting. Other than light sources already existing in the courtroom, no flashbulbs or other artificial light device of any kind shall be employed in the courtroom. With authorization from the judicial officer, modifications may be made in light sources existing in the courtroom (e.g., higher wattage light bulbs), provided such modifications are installed and maintained without public expense.
25.4(3) Equipment and pooling. The following limitations on the amount of equipment and number of photographic and broadcast news media personnel in the courtroom apply:
a. Video recording, audio recording, and still photography.Not more than five total members of the news media using still cameras, television cameras, audio recorders, and electronic devices, or any combination of the four, to photograph, video, or record audio are permitted in the courtroom during a judicial proceeding. Each still photographer may use two camera bodies each with a fixed lens or one camera body and two lenses. Where possible, all recording and broadcasting equipment that is not a component part of a camera or an electronic device and any operating personnel shall be located outside of the courtroom. Audio pickup for broadcast coverage must be accomplished from any existing audio system present in the courtroom if such pickup would be technically suitable for broadcast.
b. Electronic devices not used for recording audio, video, or still images. The devices defined in rule 25.4(1)(d) may be used in the courtroom by members of the news media for live electronic reporting with advance approval from the judicial officer, provided the equipment does not make any disruptive noise or interfere with court equipment. Electronic devices may not be used for telephone calls by anyone in the courtroom. Electronic devices for photography, video recording, audio recording, or streaming video may not be used by anyone in the courtroom unless approved by the judicial officer in advance of the proceeding as defined in rule 25.4(3)(a). The rule applies to news media only as defined in rule 25.1. Use of such electronic devices by others is prohibited.
c. Pooling. Where the above limitations on equipment and personnel make it necessary, the news media shall be required to pool equipment and personnel. Pooling arrangements are the sole responsibility of the news media coordinator, and the judicial officer will not mediate any dispute as to the appropriate news media representatives authorized to cover a particular judicial proceeding. Representatives of news media are responsible for contributing to electronic pool coverage of judicial proceedings when necessary. If a news organization is incapable of contributing to pool coverage, the news media coordinator may allow the news organization to share the pool coverage or may restrict the news organization’s coverage.
25.4(4) Location of equipment and personnel. Equipment and operating personnel, including news media using electronic devices to transmit and receive data communication, must be located in, and coverage of the proceedings must take place from, an area or areas the judicial officer designates within the coutroom. The area or areas designated shall provide reasonable access to the proceeding to be covered.
25.4(5) Movement during the proceedings. Television cameras and audio equipment may be installed in or removed from the courtroom only when the court is not in session. In addition, such equipment shall at all times be operated from a fixed position. News media personnel are prohibited from moving about the courtroom while proceedings are in session and engaging in any movement that attracts undue attention.
25.4(6) Decorum. News media personnel shall be properly attired and shall maintain proper courtroom decorum at all times while covering a judicial proceeding.
Rule 25.5 Supreme court and court of appeals
25.5(1) Expanded news media coverage of oral arguments.
a. All regularly scheduled Iowa Supreme Court and Iowa Court of Appeals oral arguments will be available for streaming over the Internet and expanded news media coverage. The rules in this chapter allowing objections to expanded news media coverage do not apply to supreme court and court of appeals oral arguments.
b. The prohibitions in rule 25.2(5) on the types of cases subject to expanded news media coverage do not apply to supreme court and court of appeals oral arguments.
25.5(2) Expanded news media coverage.
a. The rules in this chapter pertaining to expanded news media coverage apply only to news media coverage occurring within the supreme court and court of appeals courtrooms in the Iowa Judicial Branch Building in Des Moines. Recordings of supreme court and court of appeals oral arguments made from other locations within the judicial building are not subject to the rules on expanded news media coverage.
b. The rules in this chapter also apply to news media coverage occurring within any space, room, or auditorium in which the supreme court or court of appeals conducts oral argument outside of the Iowa Judicial Branch Building in Des Moines. Recordings made from any location outside the immediate space, room, or auditorium in which supreme court or court of appeals conducts oral arguments are not subject to the rules on expanded news media coverage.
c. A written request for expanded news media coverage of oral arguments of the supreme court or court of appeals must be filed with the clerk of the supreme court no later than the Friday immediately preceding the week in which the argument is to be held.
d. Form 4 in rule 25.10 is the notice form for the news media coordinator to use to inform the attorneys for all parties and the presiding justice or judge of a request for expanded news media coverage of the oral argument.
Iowa Freedom of Information Council Procedural Guidelines
The following guidelines constitute the operational procedures of the Iowa FOI Council, as the Iowa Supreme Court-designated administrator of the expanded news media coverage program.
1. Information required for requests
The news organization seeking expanded news media coverage shall obtain all information about the proceeding it wishes to cover with news cameras or microphones, including the official case name and docket number and the names of the presiding judge, the clerk of court, the court administrator and the attorneys of record. If a party is not represented by counsel, that party’s name, address and telephone number also shall be included.
2. Time and manner of making requests
Initial appearances in criminal proceedings:
Oral or written requests for expanded news media coverage of initial appearances in criminal proceedings must be made to the judicial officer presiding over the proceeding. Such coverage is subject to objection by the prosecutor, defendant or defendant’s attorney.
All other requests for expanded news media coverage of judicial proceedings:
When the proceeding to be covered is scheduled sufficiently in advance, the requesting news organization shall give the regional coordinator of the judicial district where the proceeding is to be held not less than 10 (ten) days’ advance notice of its request for expanded news media coverage. All information listed in item 1 must be provided. Since applications for expanded media coverage must reach the court seven (7) days in advance of the proceeding, the expanded news media coverage requests must be made ahead of the deadline so there is sufficient time to process the application. If a formal request has been made for coverage of a legal proceeding within the seven days required by the rules, regional news media coordinators may allow additional news media to participate in expanded or pooled coverage, providing:
(1) requests are made to the regional coordinator within a minimum of five days before the scheduled proceeding or at least one day before any objection hearing is held (whichever is the earlier) and
(2) the requests do not jeopardize compliance with the rules for expanded news media coverage.
No requests for coverage should be made on a speculative or tentative basis. A request to a court to cover a legal proceeding should be understood to be a commitment to cover the proceeding.
3. Filing court applications
Regional media coordinators will file formal applications and notices for expanded news media coverage, using Supreme Court approved forms and electronic filing whenever possible.
4. Objections to coverage applications
Media coordinators will monitor action on the application for expanded news media coverage and notify the requesting news organizations of any resistances or objections. The central office, in consultation with the requesting news organizations and the regional media coordinator, will determine the position and action that will be taken on any resistance or objection.
5. Regional media coordinators
The regional media coordinator shall be the FOI Council’s local representative. The regional media coordinators and their assistants shall make all equipment demonstrations to the court, with the assistance of the requesting news organizations. The regional media coordinator shall also make equipment placement, camera and microphone pooling and personnel scheduling decisions and arrangements for expanded media coverage and shall serve as the liaison between the participating news organizations and the court during the proceedings with expanded news media coverage. All questions by participating news organizations during coverage of a proceeding shall be made to the regional media coordinator.
6. Media disputes
Compliance with the Supreme Court rules shall be of paramount importance for all news organizations participating in expanded news media coverage of a given proceeding. Any dispute on expanded media coverage participation, including pooling and scheduling matters, shall be brought to the attention of the regional media coordinator, who shall resolve any dispute in consultation with the central office. The court or its judges shall not be asked to intervene in any media administration matter.
7. Contacts with courts
All requests and questions dealing with policies and procedures affecting coverage of legal proceedings under Iowa Court Rule 25 should be directed to the appropriate regional media coordinator or to the central office of the Iowa FOI Council: P.O. Box 8002, Des Moines, IA 50301, (515) 745-0041. Judges, clerks and court administrators should not have to respond to requests for coverage except as those requests are made by the media coordinator or in regard to initial appearances in criminal proceedings (see item 2 above).
8. Media identification
Pursuant to Rule 25.2(12), all news media personnel authorized to use electronic devices in the courtroom must wear identification, which is clearly visible to the judicial officer and members of the jury and which states the person’s name and media affiliation. News media representatives should contact the regional coordinator to find out how identification badges are handled in the jurisdiction (for example, whether special ID badges are issued or news media can use work-issued identification badges).
Regional Media Coordinators
Allamakee, Clayton, Delaware, Dubuque counties
Dubuque Telegraph Herald
801 Bluff St.
Dubuque, IA 52004
(563) 588-5663 (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Howard, Chickasaw, Winneshiek, Bremer, Fayette, Butler, Grundy, Black Hawk, Buchanan counties
Waterloo-Cedar Falls Courier
P.O. Box 540
Waterloo, IA 50704
(319) 291-1578 (office), (319) 269-1666 (cell) (email@example.com)
Winnebago, Worth, Mitchell, Hancock, Cerro Gordo, Floyd, Franklin counties
Mason City Globe Gazette
300 N. Washington Ave.
Mason City, IA 50401
(641) 421-0564 (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Pocahontas, Humboldt, Wright, Sac, Calhoun, Webster, Hamilton, Hardin, Carroll, Greene, Boone counties
Fort Dodge Messenger
713 Central Ave.
Fort Dodge, IA 50501
(515) 573-2141, ext. 520 (email@example.com)
Lyon, Osceola, Dickinson, Emmet, Sioux, O’Brien, Clay, Palo Alto, Kossuth counties
N’West Iowa Review
227 9th St.
Sheldon, Iowa 51201
(712) 324-5347 (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Plymouth, Cherokee, Buena Vista, Woodbury, Ida, Monona, Crawford counties
2000 Indian Hills
Sioux City, IA 51104
(712) 239-2107 (email@example.com)
Harrison, Shelby, Audubon, Pottawattamie, Cass, Mills, Montgomery, Fremont, Page counties
1001 S. 10th St.
Omaha, NE 68103
(402) 978-8951 (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Story, Marshall, Guthrie, Dallas, Polk, Jasper, Madison, Warren, Marion counties
1801 Grand Ave.
Des Moines, IA 50309
(515) 242-3785 (email@example.com)
Adair, Adams, Union, Clarke, Lucas, Taylor, Ringgold, Decatur, Wayne counties
Creston News Advertiser
503 W. Adams St.
Creston, IA 50801
(641) 782-2141, x6436; cell (641) 278-6863
Tama, Benton, Linn, Jones, Iowa, Johnson counties
Cedar Rapids Gazette
P.O. Box 511
Cedar Rapids, IA 52406
(319) 398-8219; cell (319) 594-9666 (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Clinton, Cedar, Jackson, Scott, Muscatine counties
805 Brady St.
Davenport, IA 52803
(563) 383-7156 (email@example.com)
Poweshiek, Mahaska, Keokuk, Monroe, Wapello, Jefferson, Appanoose, Davis, Van Buren counties
Ottumwa Courier/Oskaloosa Herald
213 E. 2nd St.
Ottumwa, IA 52501
(641) 895-5660 (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Washington, Louisa, Henry, Des Moines, Lee counties
The Hawk Eye
800 S. Main St.
Burlington, IA 52601
(319) 758-8135; cell (319) 572-0283 (email@example.com)
1801 Grand Ave.
Des Moines, IA 50309
(515) 242-3785 (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Questions about ENMC
I’m a journalist who heard about an arrest last night, and the initial appearance is scheduled for this morning. I want to cover it with video or still photography. Do I need to contact the regional Expanded News Media Coverage coordinator?
No. Under the amended Iowa Court Rules Chapter 25 (25.2(4)), a request for Expanded News Media Coverage (ENMC) of initial appearances in criminal proceedings is made directly to the presiding judicial officer orally or in writing. The defendant has the right to object to ENMC, and the judicial officer may rule on the basis of the oral objection. ENMC is permitted unless the judicial officer concludes that such coverage would materially interfere with the rights of the parties to a fair trial (25.2(2)). However, if you want to cover subsequent judicial proceedings in this case, you must apply for ENMC through the regional coordinator.
I see that the rules require that news media representatives participating in ENMC must wear ID in the courtroom. Will the court provide that?
The rules just say that all authorized news media representatives “must wear identification, which is clearly visible to the judicial officer and members of the jury and which states the person’s name and media affiliation.” Contact the regional ENMC coordinator to find out how this process is handled in the jurisdiction. Most journalists will wear the IDs provided by their news organizations. It is the reporter’s responsibility to wear a badge that is clearly visible to the judge and jury that identifies the reporter as a person who has been authorized to use electronic devices in the courtroom.
The rules allow a maximum of five electronic devices in the courtroom to record video and audio and to capture still photographs (25.4(3)). But the courtrooms in my district are too small to accommodate more than one TV camera. What should we do?
The judicial officer still has the discretion to approve ENMC in a way that allows transparency while avoiding disruption of court proceedings. The judicial officer can work with the regional coordinator to determine the appropriate number of devices and where they will be placed in the courtroom. Media may be required to collaborate to pool coverage. If a news organization is incapable of contributing to the pool, the regional coordinator is allowed to restrict the organization’s participation or allow it to share coverage.
The amended ENMC rules allow journalists to use electronic devices like cell phones and tablets to text, blog or Tweet real-time coverage of judicial proceedings, so long as they aren’t distracting (25.4(4)(d)). Is there any limit on the number of such devices allowed in the courtroom?
No. However, a request to use such devices in the courtroom is required to be filed with the court and all parties at least seven days in advance of the proceeding (25.3(2). Journalists must file an ENMC request in advance of that deadline with the appropriate regional coordinator, who fills out the official request form and distributes it. Journalists must contact the regional coordinator as soon as they know they want to cover a judicial proceeding, to ensure timely filing of a request. In addition, the judicial officer presiding over the proceeding can limit the number of electronic devices in the courtroom to avoid disruption.
I write a blog that provides news and commentary on events in my community. Can I apply for ENMC to blog from a trial in my local courthouse?
Yes. Amendments to Chapter 25 allow “any person who regularly gathers, prepares, photographs, records, writes, edits, reports or publishes news or information about matters of public interest in any medium” to apply for ENMC. However, you must apply through the regional coordinator, like any other member of the news media, and “agree to comply with all court rules.” Familiarize yourself with the ENMC rules, including the prohibition on coverage of jurors and conferences between attorneys and their clients, and the importance of being discreet and non-distracting in your work.
My news organization wants to live stream a trial. Can we do that under the amended rules?
Yes. The ENMC rules accommodate live streaming as part of rules governing audio, video and still photography coverage of judicial proceedings.
Do the ENMC rules allow electronic coverage of the jury?
Rule 25.2(6) allows expanded news media coverage of the return of the jury’s verdict. In all other circumstances, expanded news media coverage of jurors is prohibited except to the extent “it is unavoidable in the coverage of other trial participants or courtroom proceedings.” This means that while reporting on jury selection is permitted, electronic coverage — including Tweeting, blogging and other live electronic coverage — is prohibited.
What should a reporter do if steps are taken to prevent expanded news media coverage of a proceeding?
The following objection statement is a guideline that can be read by the reporter: “Your Honor, I am [name], a reporter for [newspaper, television or radio station]. I would like the opportunity to resist prevention of expanded media coverage of these proceedings. I would like to request the opportunity to contact counsel and have counsel present after a short recess. [If the court allows you this opportunity, immediately contact counsel. If the request is denied, then proceed as follows.] A request for expanded news media coverage was made by the media coordinator in advance of these proceedings. Expanded news media coverage should be allowed because it will not materially interfere with the rights of the parties to a fair trial. There are alternatives to denying participation such as questioning jurors and change of venue, both of which have been traditionally recognized by courts.”
If the objection is made by a witness, the reporter should then continue as follows:
“Since the objection is made by a witness, the witness must show good cause for excluding expanded news media coverage. Good cause cannot be shown because the effect of coverage will be no different on this witness than on other similarly situated members of the public under these same circumstances and expanded news media coverage will not have an effect that is qualitatively different from the coverage of these proceedings than will otherwise occur. We therefore request that expanded news media coverage be allowed. Thank you.”
What are the ethical restrictions on attorneys’ comments and information dissemination during litigation?
The Iowa Code of Professional Responsibility for Lawyers (Iowa Court Rules, Chapter 32), which delineates the ethical rules governing attorneys’ conduct, includes several provisions concerning the types of public, out-of-court statements that may (and may not) be made by attorneys during various stages of the litigation process. Different requirements apply during different stages of proceedings; the requirements also vary depending upon the nature of the proceeding. As a general matter, the rules permit attorneys to disseminate information contained in the public record but restrict other types of comments, particularly those which are deemed to have a possible impact upon the fairness of the proceeding.