New restrictions on electronic devices coming to Southern Indiana District courts

Citizens will have to turn off and secure their electronic devices before entering any of the federal courthouses in the Southern District of Indiana starting Aug. 2, Chief Judge Tanya Walton Pratt has announced.

The new restrictions were included in General Order 2021-19, which was signed July 15 by Pratt.

Under the new measures, all persons who are carrying, delivering or transporting any briefcase, suitcase, container or electronic device, including cellphones, smartwatches, tablets and computers, will be required to surrender them for X-ray screening and personal inspection by a security guard. Individuals must turn off all electronic devices in the presence of the security officer when entering the courthouse and place the items in a locked receptacle where it will remain while the owners are in the building.

Those exempted from placing their electronic devices in a receptacle include:

  • All attorneys with either valid evidence of their admission to the bar or credentials of the U.S. Department of Justice or the Office of the Federal Public Defender and support staff in their company.
  • Summoned and seated jurors, subject to any restrictions imposed by the presiding judge.
  • Judicial officers; employees of the U.S. District Court, U.S. Bankruptcy Court, U.S. Probation Office or the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals; other federal court employees on official business; and employees of courthouse tenant agencies with valid courthouse identification cards.
  • Volunteer law clerks and interns for the court and tenant agencies with valid court-issued identification.
  • Law enforcement officials on official business with valid identification or badge.
  • Members of the media on official business who have previously registered and been approved for access. Approved media entrants must turn off — not place on silent or vibrate mode — their devices before entering the courtroom.

Those exempted from the screening procedures altogether include:

  • Southern Indiana District Court judges and magistrate judges.
  • Judges of the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Southern Indiana District.
  • Employees of the federal government including the district courts and probation office who work in one of the federal courthouses in the Southern Indiana District.
  • Attorneys and their staff employed by either the Southern Indiana District Office of the U.S. Attorney, the U.S. Trustee and the IRS.
  • Attorneys and up to six staff members employed by the Indiana federal community defender for the Southern District of Indiana.
  • Attorneys appointed by the court to serve on the criminal justice panel for the Southern Indiana District Court.
  • Standing Chapter 13 trustees.

Anyone who refuses to allow their electronic items to be screened will be denied entrance.

The buildings covered by the order include the Birch Bayh Federal Building and U.S. Courthouse in Indianapolis; the U.S. Courthouse in Terre Haute; the Winfield K. Denton Federal Building and U.S. Courthouse in Evansville; and the Lee H. Hamilton Federal Building and U.S. Courthouse in New Albany.

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