What is Your Policy On Cell Phones in the Court House?


What is your policy on cell phones in the courthouse? Are you able to keep them with you? If not, what do you do with them while you are in the courthouse? Can you use them in the courthouse?


“…The New Castle County Courthouse in Delaware bans the general public from entering with any cellphones or electronic devices. Staff, attorneys, police officers, etc. are allowed to enter with these devices with proper identification. However, the devices are not allowed to be used in the courtroom while the judge is on the bench. There are lockers in the adjacent parking garage which cost $.50 and allow people who did not drive to Court to deposit their devices. However, numerous people hide the cell phones in the bushes because, I guess, $.50 is too expensive”
“On recommendation of the Judicial Branch Administrative Council, the Supreme Court adopts the following policy concerning use of electronic devices in New Hampshire Judicial Branch courtrooms:

Electronic devices, including laptops, personal digital assistants (PDAs), and cellular telephones are permitted in the courtroom unless the presiding justice finds that use of a particular device will disrupt a particular court proceeding. Cellular telephones shall be put in ‘silent mode’ in the courtroom.

Audio recorders, video cameras, and still cameras, including cellular telephone cameras, are also permitted in the courtroom. Supreme Court Rule 19, Superior Court Rule 78, District Court Rule 1.4 (also applicable in the Family Division), and Probate Court Rule 78 regulate use of devices listed in this paragraph”
“We do not take cell phones away as our customers enter the courthouse. Although upon entering the courtrooms we have signs posted stating that cell phones need to be turned off and are subject to being confiscated. I have attached Rule 1.150 from the Rules of Court used in CA. Our Local Rules also state that any and all video, cell phone and other photography through crtrm windows or into the courtroom from the hallway is subject to the same restrictions that apply to the use of cameras in the crtroom and shall require prior approval by the judge of the affected courtroom. (See CA Rules of Court 1.150)”
“Our policy allows attorneys and law enforcement officers to bring in cell phones, but not the general public. We give customers the choice of returning the phone to their vehicle, or we have a system where we can hold the phone for them and give them a ticket to retrieve it when they leave the courthouse (there is a sign on the exit reminding them to retrieve their phone). The reaction to this policy is generally very negative, but we found it necessary due to gang members using camera phones to intimidate witnesses. Yes it’s a double standard, but it would really be cumbersome so impose this on attorneys and law enforcement officers.”
“I like the cell phone policies at the Montgomery County Circuit and Baltimore City District Courts in [Maryland]. Their policies state something to the effect that cell phones are allowed in the courthouse, but the audible ring has to be silenced and no phone use is allowed in any courtroom. They also prohibit the use of cell phone cameras at all times.

I have only seen a handful of courts that outright ban them. Those that do have negative reactions among court patrons and there is usually some allowance for attorneys, which generates more negative reaction due to a perceived double standard. Moreover, rather than return the cell phone to one’s automobile, people tend to stash them in the bushes (hopefully) to retrieve them later.

In short, courts need to make reasonable adjustments to contemporary times, which for better or for worse, involves significant cell phone ownership”
The Knowledge and Information Service (KIS) of the National Center for State Courts did a survey a few years ago which covered this topic. They “…observed a trend with regard to banning cell phones. Cell phones are a distraction; if they are not permitted in doctors’ offices, movie theaters, and restaurants, why should we allow them in courtrooms? At the very least, judges require that phones be turned off in court.”

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