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The Public Information Office registers members of the media under SJC Rule 1:19, which allows for registered media to bring electronic devices into the courtroom. More information about the rule, how to register, and a fillable PDF registration form are below. A listing of registered news media and news media individuals is on the Courtroom Media Access page on our website.
SJC Rule 1:19: Electronic Access to the Courts (revised rule effective as of September 17, 2012)
The news media are defined as those who are regularly engaged in the reporting and publishing of news or information about matters of public interest. This includes citizen journalists who meet this standard.
The rule allows the news media with permission of the court to use laptop computers, tablets, smart phones and other mobile electronic devices in the courtroom as long as they are not disruptive to the proceedings. This means that live blogging is allowed.
The rule requires that news media register with the Public Information Office in order to use cameras and other electronic devices in courts. Those registering must confirm that they meet the definition of news media and agree to follow the rule.
For photography and video recording, the rule allows only one stationary, mechanically silent video camera for broadcast television; a second mechanically silent video camera for web posting; and one silent still camera for print media to be used in the courtroom at any one time. The court does not get involved in pool arrangements--members of the media are expected to work out such arrangements amongst themselves.
The rule applies to public hearings. Motions to suppress may be electronically recorded. The rule also applies to clerk magistrates conducting public proceedings. If news media ask to record multiple cases in a session on the same day, a judge may reasonably restrict the number of cases that are recorded to prevent undue administrative burdens on the court.
Photos and audio or video recording are not allowed without specific, prior approval by a judge. Photography or electronic recording or transmission of voir dire hearings concerning jurors or prospective jurors and frontal or close-up photography and video of jurors and prospective jurors are never permitted. News media cannot photograph or film minors or victims of sexual assault without the consent of a judge.
Photography or filming in other areas outside of the courtroom are not permitted without permission of a judge or other court official. Court officials may implement reasonable guidelines to avoid interference with court business.
Members of the media who have read SJC Rule 1:19 and believe that they meet the requirement of the rule should fill out a news media registration form. The form is a fillable PDF. Users must have Adobe Reader 7.0 or greater to use the extensions. (Adobe Reader is a free software and it is available for download from a number of sites).
Users must open the form on the website, fill it out, and then save it to their desktop
using "Save As..." under a different name.
News organizations need to have only one authorized representative complete the registration form, but that person will be responsible for ensuring that each member of the news organization has read and understands the rule and has agreed to abide by its provisions. All individuals who register and those who are covered by an organization’s registration must indicate they have read and agree to adhere to the rule.
The completed and saved version should be sent as an attachment to PublicInfo@sjc.state.ma.us, or faxed to (617) 742-1807. Questions about the news media registration process or any other aspect of covering a court proceeding should be directed to the Public Information Office by email at PublicInfo@ sjc.state.ma.us, or by phone at 617-557-1114.
Once the registration form is completed, the Supreme Judicial Court’s Public Information Office will send an a signed media registration form by email to the registrant, which any registered member of the media must bring with him or her to court with a photo ID to be allowed to bring electronic devices into the courtroom.
Those who register with the Public Information Office will have their names and affiliations listed on this court's website.
News media must show the signed media registration form to court security when going to court. A photo ID, such as a driver’s license, is required. Identification showing affiliation with a registered news organization, such as a business card, may also be required. The signed media registration form can be stored on a mobile device to be shown to court security. A paper copy also is acceptable.
The news media representative must first show the signed media registration form and photo ID to an associate court officer at the courthouse entrance. All electronic devices will be screened at the entrance.
The news media representative needs to obtain permission from the judge before using electronic devices in the courtroom. To do so, news media should contact the clerk’s office to ask for permission from the judge. Photos and audio or video recording are not allowed without specific, prior approval by a judge. A judge may require reasonable advance notice, in accordance with the rule.
The news media representative must also show the signed media registration form and photo identification to a court officer assigned to the court proceeding. A court officer may make a copy of the form or record the names and contact information.