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Electronic Coverage of Court Proceedings

* The following article is valid as of March 8, 2017. It is not intended for specific legal advice for your case. Rather it is an article of general legal interest. If you have questions, please contact our office at Tel: (702) 940-1234

The Nevada Supreme Court Rules 229-246 govern electronic coverage of court proceedings for news reporters. The general policy is that the courts are open to the public; therefore, news coverage of the courts is permissible.

This rule does not cover news reporters who do not use cameras or other electronic equipment. Further, it is important to keep in mind that the use of other recording devices, such as cameras or cell phones, is prohibited without the judge’s permission.

1. Who and what this rule covers.

This rule applies to matters which the public is entitled to attend, such as any trial, hearing, motion, hearing on an order to show cause or petition.

A “news reporter” is defined as any person who gathers, prepares, collects, photographs,records, writes, edits, reports, or publishes news or information that concerns local, national, or international events or other matters of public interest for dissemination to the public.

“Electronic coverage” means broadcasting, televising, recording or taking photographs by any means, including but not limited to video cameras, still cameras, cellular phones with photographic or recording capabilities or computers.

2. How the news reporters gain permission.

In order to gain permission to provide electronic coverage of a proceeding, the reporter shall file a written request with the judge at least 24 hours before the proceeding begins; however, the judge may grant such a request on shorter notice or waive the requirement for a written request. The attorneys of record must be notified by the court of any such request.
The written order of the judge granting or denying access by a news reporter to a proceeding shall be made a part of the record of the proceedings.

Under these rules, there is a presumption that all courtroom proceedings that are open to the public are subject to electronic coverage. A judge shall make particularized findings on the record when determining whether electronic coverage will be allowed at a proceeding, in whole
or in part. If you do not want your matter covered electronically, you should argue the following factors, which are mandatory for the judge to consider:

a. The impact of coverage upon the right of any party to a fair trial;
b. The impact of coverage upon the right of privacy of any party or witness;
c. The impact of coverage upon the safety and well-being of any party, witness or juror;
d. The likelihood that coverage would distract participants or would detract from the dignity of the proceedings;
e. The adequacy of the physical facilities of the court for coverage; and
f. Any other factor affecting the fair administration of justice.

3. Remedies for failure to comply with this Rule or interference with the administration of justice.

If any news reporter fails to comply with the conditions prescribed by the judge, the judge may revoke that individual’s permission to provide electronic coverage of the proceeding. Also, as long as the judge makes a particularized finding on the record, the judge can revoke authorization at any time and without notice when, in the judge’s discretion, it appears that electronic coverage of the judicial proceedings is interfering in anyway with the proper administration of justice.

4. How the Court and media maintain communication with each other.

It is mandatory for the Court to maintain communication and liaison with news reporters so as to ensure smooth working relationships and to provide any suggestions to improve these guidelines.
It is desirable to the news reporters to designate a representative
with whom the court may consult.

5. Pooling of news coverage.
Unless specifically authorized by the judge, no more than one television camera person and one still photographer should be taking pictures in the courtroom at any one time. If more than one news reporter has permission to participate, it is the responsibility of the news reporters to determine who will participate at any given time or, in the alternative, how they will pool their coverage. This understanding should be reached outside the courtroom and before the court session, and must be done without imposing on the court or court personnel. In the event that the news reporters cannot agree on who will participate, the judge shall select the pool camera that will be allowed to participate. Priority as the video pool camera should favor a media outlet that is televising an entire proceeding.

To be eligible to participate in a camera pool, a news reporter must apply prior to a court proceeding for appropriate permission pursuant to Rule 230(1).

Any pooling arrangements necessitated among the news reporters by these limitations on equipment and personnel shall be the sole responsibility of the news reporters and must be arranged prior to coverage without calling upon the court to mediate any dispute regarding
appropriate personnel or equipment. Every effort must be made for the joint use of audio and photographic equipment within the courtroom.

If pooling arrangements are employed, such data or information is to be available equally to all pool participants in a generally accepted form or format, and the pool representative shall charge no fees or expenses to the other pool participants. The pool representative is not to be given any economic or coverage advantage over the other pool participants. If costs are associated with establishing media pool coverage, the costs should be
shared among the pool participants.

News reporters utilizing video or still cameras shall not utilize equipment that produces distracting sounds. News reporters utilizing such equipment may have their permission to video or photograph the proceeding revoked.

News reporters shall not interrupt a court proceeding with a technical or equipment problem.

6. Audio systems.

Audio systems. A single audio system will provide sound for both radio and television use, preferably the existing audio system present in the courtroom. If such a system does not exist or is not satisfactory for radio and television use, the affected news reporters shall report that fact to the judge, and shall install, at the affected news reporters’ expense,
microphones and related wiring in advance of the trial or during a recess or adjournment in such a way as to keep the equipment as unobtrusive as possible. Such equipment shall be located in places designated in advance of any proceeding by the court or its designee.

7. Location of equipment and personnel in the courtroom.

a. Broadcast equipment

Broadcast equipment shall be positioned as unobtrusively as possible in such locations in the court facility as designated by the judge, but the location just provide reasonable access to coverage. The equipment must be in place and tested 15 minutes in advance of the time court is called to order. If the equipment is not in place prior to the hearing, a judge may deny access until a break in the proceeding.

b. Still photography
The still camera photographer shall be positioned in such locations
in the court facility as shall be designated by the judge and must provide
reasonable access to coverage. The still camera photographer shall assume a fixed position within the designated area, and once the photographer is positioned, such photographer shall not
move about in any way as to attract attention. If the still camera being used produces audible noise, the photographer shall limit the number of photographs so as not to distract from the court proceeding.

c. Wires
Wires, microphones, and similar equipment shall be placed as unobtrusively as possible within the courtroom at least 15 minutes before the proceedings begin and will be secured or taped down when this is appropriate. All wiring shall be unobtrusive or hidden, and must be placed where it will not interfere with anyone or constitute a hazard. The bailiff shall inspect the location of any wires, microphones, and other equipment to see that they comply with these rules.

9. Dress and decorum of news reporters
News reporters should present a neat appearance in keeping with the dignity of the proceedings. Further, the decorum and dignity of the court, the courtroom, and the proceedings must be maintained at all times.

10. Limitations of electronic coverage of the jury.

In any case where a jury has been impaneled, such jury shall not be sequestered solely because of any activity authorized by these guidelines. This rules does not affect the authority of the judge to order sequestration for any other lawful purpose.

Consent of the jury shall not be required for photography. News reporters shall not deliberately photograph the jury or individual jurors. However, it is recognized that, because of the physical layout of some courtrooms and the general trial activity in any courtroom, it may be impossible not to photograph some jurors as part of the proceedings. To the extent possible,
news reporters shall locate and focus their equipment in such a manner as to minimize photographs of the jury.

News reporters or news organizations who violate this provision
may be excluded from further participation in electronic news coverage authorized in these rules.

Camera coverage is limited.
Camera coverage shall be limited to proceedings open to the public. In order to protect the attorney/client privilege and the right to
effective assistance of counsel, news reporters shall not record or broadcast by audio or video transmission the content of any privileged conference, including, but not limited to, conferences occurring between attorneys and their clients, between attorneys, between clients or between or among attorneys, their clients and the judge when the judge calls for a colloquy at the bench.

11. Consent of participants.

The consent of participants to coverage is not required. The judge, however, in the exercise of sound discretion, may prohibit the filming or photographing of any participant who does not consent to being filmed or photographed. This is in recognition of the authority reposing in the judge, upon the exercise of sound discretion, to hold certain judicial
proceedings, or portions thereof in camera and in recognition of the fact that certain proceedings or portions thereof are made confidential by law. This provision does not apply to jurors during the pendency of the proceeding as they are covered elsewhere in these rules.

Additionally, consent cannot be obtained for payment. No witness, juror or party shall give consent to coverage for any payment, of any kind, either directly or indirectly.

The issue of consent was addressed in the case of Quisano v. State, 368 P.3d 415, 132 Nev. Adv. Op. 9 (Nev. App., 2016). There, the defendant entered an Alford plea to one count of voluntary manslaughter and child abuse, neglect, or endangerment with substantial bodily harm. The media made an untimely request to appear at sentencing, which was granted, but the court failed to file an order with a particularized finding. The defendant was sentenced to a 4-10 years sentence for the voluntary manslaughter with a consecutive 6-19 year sentence for the child abuse charge.

On appeal, the defendant argued that the court erred in allowing the media to appear and in failing to make findings. The Court determined that the district court didn’t err in granting the untimely request, but it did err in not making findings under SCR 230(2); however, the Court concluded that those errors did not contribute to the district court's sentencing determination. Accordingly, they did not grant Quisano any relief.

12. Limitations on the use of courtroom broadcast material.

Video, photography or audio reproductions may only be used for educational or informational purposes, and may not be used for unrelated advertising purposes. Further, materials gathered as part of these rules cannot be considered part of the official record.

13. Limitations on access.
During the conduct of any proceeding at which the print media is
ordered by the judge to be excluded, all other types of news reporters shall also be excluded. News reporters shall have no greater rights of access than the public.

Further, audio or visual equipment authorized by these rules must not be operated during a recess in a court proceeding unless otherwise approved by the judge, with notice to counsel.

14. Challenging these rules

No direct appellate review of the interpretation or application of these rules shall be available to the news reporters or parties. News reporters or parties may, however, seek extraordinary relief by way of writ petition.

Attorney conduct.

Attorneys must observe and strictly comply with Rule of Professional Conduct 3.6 regarding the conduct of all attorneys with respect to trial publicity. They should familiarize themselves with this rule.

Rule 3.6.  Trial Publicity.
(a) A lawyer who is participating or has participated in the investigation or litigation of a matter shall not make an extrajudicial statement that the lawyer knows or reasonably should know will be disseminated by means of public communication and will have a substantial likelihood of materially prejudicing an adjudicative proceeding in the matter.
(b) Notwithstanding paragraph (a), a lawyer may state:
(1) The claim, offense or defense involved and, except when prohibited by law, the identity of the persons involved;
(2) Information contained in a public record;
(3) That an investigation of a matter is in progress;
(4) The scheduling or result of any step in litigation;
(5) A request for assistance in obtaining evidence and information necessary thereto;
(6) A warning of danger concerning the behavior of a person involved, when there is reason to believe that there exists the likelihood of substantial harm to an individual or to the public interest; and
(7) In a criminal case, in addition to subparagraphs (1) through (6):
(i) The identity, residence, occupation and family status of the accused;
(ii) If the accused has not been apprehended, information necessary to aid in apprehension of that person;
(iii) The fact, time and place of arrest; and
(iv) The identity of investigating and arresting officers or agencies and the length of the investigation.
(c) Notwithstanding paragraph (a), a lawyer may make a statement that a reasonable lawyer would believe is required to protect a client from the substantial undue prejudicial effect of recent publicity not initiated by the lawyer or the lawyer’s client. A statement made pursuant to this paragraph shall be limited to such information as is necessary to mitigate the recent adverse publicity.
(d) No lawyer associated in a firm or government agency with a lawyer subject to paragraph (a) shall make a statement prohibited by that paragraph.

15. Notice.

The judge who knows that the proceeding will be covered by news reporters shall advise the attorneys and parties in the proceeding of this fact and call these rules to the attention of the attorneys, unrepresented parties and the pool coordinator or designee. It shall be the responsibility of attorneys to notify their witnesses.

16. Other devices that are allowed in the courtroom.

a. Unobtrusive tape recorders or other electronic devices such as cellular phones, personal digital assistants (PDAs), laptop computers or other similar functioning devices used to take notes located on or near the news reporter may be allowed by the judge. However, these devices can only be used for accurate transcriptions of the court proceedings. They cannot be used for broadcast.
b. Electronic devices may be used in the courtroom to transmit and receive data communications, provided that the equipment does not make any disruptive noise or interfere with court equipment. Electronic devices may not be used for telephone calls in the courtroom.
c. Tape recorders or other electronic devices may be used as described in this rule. Electronic devices may not be used for photography, or audio or video recording for broadcast or transmission, however, unless permission is obtained pursuant to Rule 230. Use of an electronic device without permission, other than as described in this rule, may result in the confiscation of the device.

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