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Serving Flagler, Putnam, St. Johns, and Volusia Counties



Re: Procedures for Media Coverage of Court Proceedings

Ref: G-2022-036-SC

        WHEREAS, procedures related to media coverage of court proceedings must strike a balance between full media access and the litigants’ right to fair and impartial court proceedings;

        NOW THEREFORE, I, JAMES R. CLAYTON, Chief Judge of the Seventh Judicial Circuit of Florida, hereby adopt the following procedures concerning media coverage of court proceedings:

    1. General Procedures
        1. Subject to the general provisions of Rule 2.450, Florida Rules of General Practice and Judicial Administration. the number and placement of media representatives and corresponding equipment permitted inside courtrooms is at the discretion of the presiding judge.
        2. Photographing, videotaping, drawing, sketching, or otherwise revealing the faces of minors in juvenile delinquency proceedings is not permitted.
        3. Video and still cameras that do not produce distracting sound or light must be used. Spotlights or flash units may not be used.  Equipment may not be set up or taken down while court is in session.
        4. Coverage/broadcast of discussions between attorneys and clients at counsel tables, or between attorneys and the presiding judge at the judge’s bench, is not permitted.
        5. Media representatives may not enter the “well” of the courtroom at any time.
        6. So as not to interfere with court proceedings or individuals’ rights, interviews may not be conducted inside or immediately outside the courtroom. Interviews of attorneys, litigants, witnesses, court personnel, or others must take place a safe distance from courtroom entrances/exits and may not impede the orderly conduct of regular court business.  It is preferred that all such interviews take place outdoors.


    2. Definition of Media
        1. For purposes of this Order, members of the “media” are defined as persons regularly engaged in collecting, photographing, recording, writing, editing, reporting, or publishing news while working as an employee or independent contractor for a newspaper, magazine, journal, press association, wire service, or television/radio station/network.
        2. “Media” also includes online entities that operate independent sites containing regularly updated original news content above and beyond links, forums, troubleshooting tips and reader contributions. Content must be thoroughly reviewed by an independent editor before publication.  Entities must have an established audience. “Media” does not include fan sites, web logs, or personal websites.
        3. It is the responsibility of those requesting permission to cover court proceedings to provide proof that they meet the definition of “media.”


    3. Implementation Plan for Special Interest / High-profile Proceedings
        1. In addition to the general procedures outlined above, the Court Administrator’s office may be tasked with developing a case-specific plan for special interest / high-profile proceedings. Said plan will be discussed with the presiding judge and made available to the media and other interested parties.
        2. When developing said plan, the Court Administrator’s office may seek the advice, assistance, and expertise of private and/or government entities.


    4. Media Coordinator for Special Interest / High-profile Proceedings 
        1. The Court Administrator, or his/her designee, will serve as the Court’s media coordinator and serve as a liaison between the Court and the media.
        2. If more than one media outlet requests permission to cover a court proceeding, the media coordinator will decide pooling arrangements, but it is preferred that this be done by mutual agreement. In the event it becomes necessary, a meeting of interested media representatives may be convened.
        3. At least one video camera, operated by a single operator, will be permitted in subject court proceedings. One still photographer, using not more than two cameras, will be permitted in subject court proceedings.  One audio system for radio broadcast purposes will be permitted in subject court proceedings.  It is preferred that audio pickup for media purposes be accomplished from existing audio systems present in court facilities.  However, if said audio systems are not technically suitable for broadcast purposes, microphones and related wiring may be provided by the media.  Attorneys/litigants have no standing to determine the number, type, or location of such media equipment.


    5. Media Center
        1. When space is available, the Court Administrator or media coordinator may designate an area to serve as a media center. This facility, under the supervision of the media coordinator, will be open during normal working hours to media representatives.  If possible, monitors and other equipment provided by the media may be installed in the media center to permit viewing/coverage of proceedings.


    6. Courtroom Admittance
        1. The media coordinator will designate a specific location in the courtroom for the pool television camera and the pool still photographer.
        2. If necessary, a specified number of seats in the public area of the courtroom may be designated for: (1) family/friends of litigants, (2) victims, (3) family/friends of victims, (4) general public, and (6) media representatives.
        3. The media coordinator will designate a location outside the courtroom for the pool television camera person and pool still photographer covering events outside of the courtroom. Said location must be a safe distance from courtroom entrances/exits (at least 10 feet away) and cannot impede the orderly flow of pedestrian traffic in hallways adjacent to the courtroom.
        4. Except as provided herein, no other video cameras, still cameras, or other broadcasting equipment will be permitted in the courthouse; unless another court proceeding of interest is taking place.
        5. All media representatives must exhibit proper courtroom decorum, dress appropriately and silence phones and other electronic devices.


    7. Other
        1. The media coordinator will attempt to make the courtroom available for installation of necessary equipment and wiring.
        2. All equipment and wiring must be located as to not constitute a safety hazard or an obstruction to pedestrian traffic.
        3. Satellite trucks are to be parked in an area designated by the county or city where the court facility is located. The media coordinator will make necessary arrangements for such parking.
        4. Media representatives interested in covering a court proceeding must provide the Court Administrator’s office with sufficient prior notice of their intent.
        5. If the Court and/or counties incur expenses to accommodate media coverage of a court proceeding, media representatives must provide reimbursement for said expenses.


TO BE RECORDED in Flagler, Putnam, St. Johns, and Volusia counties.

DONE AND ORDERED in DeLand, Volusia County, Florida this 27th day of September 2022.

/s/ James R. Clayton
Chief Judge

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Serving Flagler, Putnam, St. Johns and Volusia Counties