Broadcasting of in-person trial court proceedings permitted under new pilot program, Supreme Court announces

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Members of the news media will be permitted to broadcast in-person proceedings in five Indiana trial courtrooms through a new pilot project, the Indiana Supreme Court announced Monday. The pilot also allows the rebroadcasting of live-streamed proceedings.

Judges in Allen, Delaware, Lake, Tippecanoe and Vanderburgh counties are participating in the broadcasting pilot project beginning Dec. 1.

The pilot project comes following discussions initiated by the Community Relations Committee and the Court Security Committee of the Judicial Conference of Indiana, in conjunction with the Hoosier State Press Association and the Indiana Broadcasters Association, a Monday order says.

The project will last four months unless extended or terminated at the Indiana Supreme Court’s discretion.

Under the pilot project, the high court will permit the following trial courts an exception to Code of Judicial Conduct Canon 2.17, which prohibits broadcasting, televising, recording or taking photographs in the courtroom and adjacent areas:

  • Allen Superior Court (Criminal), presided over by Judge Frances Gull.
  • Delaware Circuit Court 1, presided over by Judge Marianne Vorhees
  • Lake Superior Court, Civil 7, presided over by Judge Bruce Parent
  • Tippecanoe Circuit Court, presided over by Judge Sean Persin
  • Vanderburgh Superior Court, presided over by Judge Leslie Shively

All civil and criminal proceedings will be eligible for broadcast by the news media except for proceedings closed to the public, either by state statute or Indiana Supreme Court rules. Any live-streamed proceeding, regardless of judge, may also be rebroadcast with approval from the judge.

The trial judge presiding over a case of interest has discretion to approve or deny a request for broadcast of a court proceeding, the order says. Judges have the discretion to interrupt or stop the coverage if they deem it to be appropriate.

Broadcast of the following will be prohibited:

  • Police informants
  • Undercover agents
  • Minors
  • Victims of sex-related offenses
  • Jurors and jury selection
  • Attorney-client communications
  • Materials on counsel or clerk tables or the judicial bench
  • Bench conferences
  • Juvenile and child in need of services matters
  • Guardianships
  • Contested adoptions
  • Mental health commitments
  • Protection order hearings
  • Trade secrets
  • Proceedings or portions of proceedings where the court deems it necessary for the administration of justice (i.e., to protect a witness, other person or confidential information)

Media wishing to broadcast an in-person proceeding must request permission 48 hours in advance in writing on a court-provided form. Any violation of the broadcast pilot rules by the news media shall be punishable by contempt of court, including suspension and/or termination of broadcast privileges.

Additionally, news media personnel must be properly attired, wear identification and maintain proper decorum while in the courtroom, and must be unobtrusive to the judicial process. Interviews are not permitted in the courtroom.

The Community Relations Committee and the Court Security Committee of the Judicial Conference of Indiana will work alongside the HSPA and the IBA to monitor and evaluate the broadcast pilot project.

Pick up the Nov. 24 issue of Indiana Lawyer for further coverage.

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