Courtroom sketches may become a thing of the past in Utah courtrooms, as the Utah Judicial Council passed a rule to allow television cameras and other electronic devices into courtrooms. Salt Lake attorneys think this new rule will help with the practice of law and bringing the courts into the digital age.
The Council voted on the issues separately with 12 of the 16 members voting to pass the new rule allowing video cameras in the courtroom, and a unanimous vote to allow electronic devices.
Only media outlets can request to take video or audio recordings, and it would be done with a shared photographer with the same restrictions currently in place for still photography in the state’s appellate courts.
However, judges will be able to limit the use of electronic devices, but would need to give justification for doing so. The rule allows the judge to terminate electronic media coverage at any time if the judge no longer considers it appropriate.
Clay A. Alger and Gregory B. Lyle, both Salt Lake attorneys, say this is important for cases with minors, sealed court records, protected witnesses, and in some other situations. A good lawyer in Utah will know when to ask a judge for limited use of the electronic devices to protect you during your case.
The second part of the new rule regarding use of electronic devices is not limited to the media, and is open to the general public. However, the use of other electronic devices in the courtrooms, such as cellphones, laptops, and tablets, must be silent and they may not be used to record court proceedings.
This rule now allows a lawyer in Utah and his or her clients to bring and use their electronic devices in the courtroom. The new rules goes in to effect April 1, 2013, and Utah joins 37 other states that allow some form of video recording in the courtrooms.