500 E. San Antonio
El Paso, Texas 79901
Phone (915) 546-2143
Fax (915) 546-2019
Council of Judges Administration
- Media Guidelines
- GUIDELINES FOR THE BROADCASTING, TELEVISING, PHOTOGRAPHING AND RECORDING OF COURT PROCEEDINGS IN THE DISTRICT AND COUNTY COURTS OF EL PASO
- The broadcasting televising, photographing, and recording of court proceedings in the District and County Courts of El Paso County are hereby authorized in accordance with the guidelines promulgated herewith which contain safeguards to ensure that this type of media coverage shall not detract from the dignity of the court proceedings or otherwise interfere with the achievement of a fair and impartial hearing.
- Media agency - means any person or organization engaging in news gathering or reporting and includes any newspaper, radio or television station or network, news service, magazine, trade paper, professional journal, or other news reporting or news gathering agency.
- "Media coverage" - means any reporting, recording or broadcasting of court proceedings by the media using television, radio photographic or recording equipment.
- "Proceeding" - means any court hearing to include pretrial motions and the trial of the case.
- A. DISCRETION OF JUDGES
- Live media coverage of proceedings shall not be limited by the objection of counsel or parties, except that the courts individually reserve the right to limit or deny media coverage.
- 1. Media coverage in the courts is subject at all times to the authority of the judge to (a) control the conduct of the proceedings before the court; (b) ensure decorum and prevent distractions; and (c) ensure fair administration of justice in the pending cause.
- 2. The district or county has sole and primary discretion to exclude and or specify the type of coverage of certain witnesses, including but not limited to the victims of sex crimes and their families, police informants, undercover agents, relocated witnesses and juveniles.
- 3. The judge has discretionary power to forbid coverage whenever that coverage may have a deleterious effect on the paramount right of the defendant to a fair trial.
- 4. The judge has the discretion to limit or to terminate the coverage at any time during the proceedings if the court deems such is necessary and that it is in the interest of justice to protect the rights of the parties, witnesses, or the dignity of the court, or to assure the orderly conduct of the proceedings, or for any other reason considered necessary or appropriate by the court.
- B. RESTRICTIONS
- 1. Neither the jury nor any member of the jury may be filmed in or near the courtroom, nor shall the jury selection process be filmed.
- 2. Audio pickup, broadcast or recording of a tender of evidence offered by a party for the purpose of de terming admissibility made before the judge out of the hearing of the jury is not permitted.
- 3. Audio pickup, broadcast, photography, televising or recording of a Conference in the courtroom between members of the court, court and counsel, co-counsel, or counsel and client is not permitted.
- 4. Audio pickup or recording of proceedings held in chambers, and proceedings generally closed to the public is not permitted.
- 5. Audio pickup, broadcast or recording of conferences between an attorney and client, witness or aid, between attorneys or between counsel and the Court at the bench is not permitted.
- C. NOTICE
- The broadcasters, photographers and recorders shall notify the clerk of the particular court of their desire to cover a proceeding and request permission for such coverage at least forty-eight (48) hours in advance of any coverage. Each judge may, have the discretion to lengthen, or shorten the time for advance notice for coverage of a particular proceeding. The notice filed shall be signed by an agent of each specific media agency that intends to cover a proceeding or a trial and the notice will contain an acknowledgement that such media agency and agent has received a copy of these guidelines and that these guidelines are binding upon said agency and agent. Upon the filing of a request for coverage and prior to the commencement of the proceedings, the court shall consider the request and either grant or deny the request. Any media agent who intends to disseminate any footage of court proceedings shall guarantee that the restrictions imposed by these guidelines are adhered too.
- D. DECORUM
- The decorum and dignity of the court, the courtroom and the proceedings must be maintained at all times. Court customs must be followed, including appropriate attire. Movement in the courtroom during the proceedings shall be limited and may be completely excluded except during breaks or recess. Disruption of the proceedings shall be avoided.
- E. STANDARDS
- The media shall maintain high journalistic standards regarding the fairness, objectivity and quality of the coverage allowed under the guidelines.
- F. FAMILY AND JUVENILE MATTERS
- Because of the sensitive matters routinely addressed in juvenile and family law media coverage of these matters is not permitted.
- G. EQUIPMENT AND PERSONNEL
- Unless otherwise agreed upon by the court, equipment and personnel within the courtroom or hearing room shall be limited as follows.
- 1. All equipment shall be operated from a point specifically designated by the court.
- 2. Not more than one portable television camera operated by not more than one camera person shall be permitted. Only natural lighting shall be used. Cameras shall be quiet and shall be placed and operated as unobtrusively as possible within the courtroom at a location approved by the court. The cameras shall be in place at least fifteen (15) minutes before the proceedings begin.
- 3. Not more than two audio systems shall be permitted. All running wires shall be securely taped to the floor. Multiple radio feeds shall be provided by a junction box.
- 4. Not more than one still photographer,utilizing not more than one still camera each, shall be permitted. The cameras must not produce any distracting sounds. No motor drives or auto winders will be allowed and each camera is to be appropriately sound proofed. Only natural lighting shall be used. Still photographers shall remain in one place during the proceedings, but they may shift positions during breaks or recess.
- 5. Tape recorders may be used by members of the media, so long as they do not constitute a distraction during proceedings.
- 6. Any pooling arrangements necessary shall be the sole responsibility of the media and must be concluded prior to coverage without calling upon the court to mediate any dispute regarding appropriate media and personnel.
- H. INAPPLICABILITY TO INDIVIDUAL
- The privileges granted by these rules may be exercised only by persons or organizations, which are part of the news media.
- I. OBJECTIONS
- Any party may request, or object to, cameras in the courtroom by written motion, which may be supported by affidavits, which motion shall be filed not later than fifteen (15) days prior to trial. No other evidence shall be presented.
- Once notice is given to the court that the media intends to cover the proceeding, the trial court shall consider the party's motion and grant or deny the same.
- J. IMPERMISSIBLE USE OF MEDIA MATERIAL
- None of the film, videotape, still photographs or audio reproduction developed during or by virtue of coverage of a judicial proceeding shall be admissible as evidence 1 in the proceeding out of which it arose, any proceeding subsequent collateral thereto, or upon any retrial or appeal of such proceeding. Such recordings shall not be considered to be part of the official court record.
- The official court record of any proceedings is the transcript of the original notes of the court reporter made in open court.
- K. ENFORCEMENT AND SANCTIONS
- In any proceeding where there is media coverage, these guidelines shall have the force and effect of a judicial order and may be enforced by the court as allowed by law.
- A violation of these guidelines may be sanctioned by measures deemed appropriate by the court; not limited to; but may include barring that particular media agency or agent from access to future media coverage of proceedings in that courtroom for a defined period of time.