Monday, November 29, 2010

SJC Proposes New Rule on Technology in the Courts

The Rules Committee of the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court today published proposed amendments to SJC Rule 1:19, pertaining to cameras in the courts. The proposed amendments are designed, in part, to address the more-varied use of electronic technology in courtrooms, both by traditional media and new media.

The amendments were recommended by the SJC's Judiciary-Media Committee. They were drafted by a subcommittee created to review the current rule and recommend changes in light of advances in technology and journalism since the rule was promulgated.

(I serve on the Judiciary-Media Committee and was on the subcommittee that drafted the proposed rule.)

The proposed revisions change the name of the rule to "Electronic Access to the Courts." They also include an expanded definition of media and a requirement that media register with the Court's Public Information Office. The proposed amendments allow the media to possess and operate electronic devices in the courtroom, subject to certain restrictions. Live blogging from the courtroom generally would be permissible.

The SJC asks that comments be directed to Christine P. Burak, Secretary, Supreme Judicial Court Rules Committee, Supreme Judicial Court, John Adams Courthouse, One Pemberton Square, Boston MA 02108 on or before Friday, Jan. 28, 2011. Comments may also be sent by e-mail to

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