Can You Record in a Court Room?

By Victoria McGrath
Each court has set rules on photography, video and audio recording in court.

The Court of Appeals for the state of New York in Albany image by Ritu Jethani from <a href='http://www.fotolia.com'>Fotolia.com</a>

Courtroom conduct is limited to strict court rules and regulations on what is permitted and what is restricted. The minute you enter the courthouse through the metal detectors, the law enforcement officers are aware of your presence and your actions. Inside the courtroom, the bailiff, judicial assistant and judge keep a close watch on all parties. You can not record the courtroom transactions in any manner not previously authorized by the court.

Court Authorization

The court allows photography, video and audio recording in accordance with set guidelines that must not jeopardize the integrity of the court or the public trust in the judicial system. A distinction is made between public recordings made by the media and private recordings made by an individual. The media can request public access to document matters of public concern, as long as the requested recording does not interfere with the fairness of the judicial proceedings or the dignity of the process. Private individuals may generally request to record open court sessions for private use. The recordings are intended to be used for personal notes only, not for any public disclosure.

Court Reporter

Each department in the court may or may not be assigned a regular court reporter on a full-time or part-time basis. In the absence of a court reporter, a judicial assistant makes general notes on each case and documents the judge's ruling. A minute order is sent out at the conclusion of the hearing. No specific facts of the hearing are included. When a trial is recorded by a court reporter, the plaintiff and defendant are generally required to split and deposit the hourly wage in advance of trial. Copies of the transcripts are provided to each party at an additional fee.

Audio or Video Recording

Audio or video recording of any part of a hearing or trial without the judge's permission can be a violation of court rules and regulations. An individual who attempts to record court room transactions without full disclosure to the court can be sanctioned and held in contempt of court. Each court has established policies and procedures on whether or not audio or video recording is permitted. The judge makes the final determination based on the motion and/or a hearing on the matter. Use the appropriate court form or submit a motion to the court to grant this privilege. Meetings in the judge's chambers, during mediation or between attorney and clients are strictly off limits.

About the Author

Based in Los Angeles, Victoria McGrath has been writing law-related articles since 2004. She specializes in intellectual property, copyright and trademark law. She earned a Juris Doctor from the University of Arizona, College of Law. McGrath pursued both her Bachelor of Arts and Master of Fine Arts at University of California, Los Angeles, in film and television production. Her work has been published in the Daily Bruin and La Gente Newsmagazine.

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