Supreme Court allows cameras in courtrooms for COVID-19 PSAs

The Indiana Supreme Court is easing the rules against cameras in the courtroom to allow counties to produce videos that instruct the public on COVID-19 procedures in courthouses.

In a Friday order, the justices authorized trial courts “to record or photograph the physical courtroom and areas adjacent thereto for the purposes of providing the public with visual representations of how the courtrooms have been modified to comply with health and safety guidelines.”

Already, courts in Allen, Clark and Warren counties have produced video public service announcements regarding jury selection and courthouse operations.

The Allen County video features images of the local courthouse and courtrooms overlaid with text explaining COVID-19 procedures. Presiding Judge Vicki Carmichael narrates the Clark County video, which shows coronavirus-related images such as tape across the rows of a courtroom gallery. In a voice-over video, Warren County provides demonstrations of social distancing alongside photos of floor markings, among other images, followed by a message from Warren Circuit Judge Hunter Reece.

Though Rule 2.17 of the Indiana Code of Judicial Conduct generally prohibits courtroom broadcasting and photography, the rule also allows for Supreme Court exceptions. In granting an exception for COVID-19 PSAs, the Supreme Court ordered that juror information remain confidential and that court staff be used as stand-ins for the videos, rather than parties to a case.

“All other provisions of Rule 2.17 not inconsistent with this authorization, including but not limited to the prohibition on recording proceedings, remain in effect,” the court ordered.

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