IN THE CIRCUIT COURT OF FLORIDA, SEVENTH JUDICIAL CIRCUIT
IN AND FOR FLAGLER, PUTNAM, ST. JOHNS AND VOLUSIA COUNTIES
RE: Media Procedures for Special Interest/High-Profile Proceedings
REF: P-2007-131 (Rescinds P-2006-046)
WHEREAS, Rule 2.450, Florida Rules of Judicial Administration entitled Standards of Conduct and Technology Governing Electronic Media and Still Photography Coverage of Judicial Proceedings, exists, and
WHEREAS, certain cases and/or proceedings often generate great public interest or are of such high-profile status that special media coverage procedures are necessary. Such cases/proceedings will likely require special procedures and accommodations to ensure a proper balance between full media access and the litigants’ right to a fair and impartial court proceeding;
NOW THEREFORE, I, WILLIAM A. PARSONS, Chief Judge of the Seventh Judicial Circuit of Florida, hereby order that the below stated procedures be followed when a presiding judge invokes the terms of this Order:
I. Implementation Plan
a. The Court Administrator’s office will develop a case-specific implementation plan to achieve the goals of this Order. Said plan will be discussed with the presiding judge and made available to the media and other interested parties.
b. When developing said plan, the Court Administrator’s office may seek the advice, assistance and expertise of private and/or government entities.
II. Media Coordinator
a. The Court Administrator, or his/her designee, will serve as the Court’s media coordinator. The media coordinator will serve as a liaison between the Court and the media. In this capacity, the media coordinator will make himself/herself available to the media to answer questions regarding proceedings while court is in session.
b. If more than one media outlet makes a request for coverage, the media coordinator will make a pool decision based on a first-come, first-served basis, in most cases. However, if the media coordinator deems it necessary, he/she may convene a meeting of interested media representatives concerning coverage of a particular case/proceeding.
c. At the meeting, representatives from video, audio and print media will be called upon to designate (a) the pool television camera person for coverage inside the courtroom, (b) the pool still photographer for coverage inside the courtroom, (c) the pool television camera person for coverage outside the courtroom, and (d) the pool still photographer for coverage outside the courtroom. Said “pooling” arrangements/agreements are the sole responsibility of media representatives. Presiding judges should not be called upon to mediate disputes as to the appropriate media representative or equipment authorized to cover a particular proceeding. In the absence of media agreements on disputed equipment or personnel issues, the media coordinator may designate “pool” providers, or the presiding judge may exclude all contesting media personnel from a proceeding.
d. Only one video camera, operated by a single operator, will be permitted in subject court proceedings. Only one still photographer, using not more than two still cameras, will be permitted in subject court proceedings. Only 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 it is determined that said audio systems are not technically suitable for broadcast purposes, microphones and related wiring provided by the media must be unobtrusive and located in places designated by the presiding judge, Chief Judge, Court Administrator, or media coordinator. Litigants have no standing to determine the number, type or location of such media equipment.
e. The subject video and still cameras may not produce distracting sound or light. The still camera must be enclosed in a silencing device. No equipment may be set up or taken down while court is in session. Spotlights or flash units may not be used in the courtroom.
f. To protect attorney-client privilege and the effective representation by counsel, media broadcast or audio pickup of conferences that occur in the courtroom between attorneys and their clients, or between counsel and the presiding judge held at the bench, are not permitted.
III. Media Center
a. 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 with press credentials. If possible, monitors and other equipment provided by the media will be located in the media center to permit viewing/coverage of proceedings by media representatives who are either unable to obtain courtroom seating, or who prefer to use the center.
IV. Courtroom Admittance
a. The presiding judge, Chief Judge, Court Administrator, or media coordinator will designate a specific location in the courtroom for the pool television camera and the pool still photographer. The camera operators must comply with the provisions of Rule 2.450.
b. The presiding judge may designate a specified number of seats in the public area of the courtroom for the following categories of individuals: (a) family/friends of litigants, (b) victims, (c) family/friends of victims, (d) general public, (e) court personnel, and (f) media representatives.
c. No one is permitted to enter the well of the courtroom at any time without the express permission of the presiding judge.
d. Media personnel may not cover or attend “side bar” conferences and/or “bench” conferences.
e. So as not to interfere with court proceedings or with a litigant’s rights, no interviews are permitted within or immediately outside the courtroom at any time. No member of the media may attempt to interview any attorney, litigant, witness, court personnel, or member of the public within or immediately outside the courtroom.
f. The presiding judge, Chief Judge, Court Administrator, or 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 at least 10 feet from the courtroom exit doors and cannot impede the orderly flow of pedestrian traffic in hallways adjacent to the courtroom.
g. Except as provided herein, no other video cameras, still cameras, or other broadcasting equipment will be permitted in the courthouse, with the exception of equipment used to cover other judicial proceedings.
a. By arrangement with the media coordinator, the courtroom will be made available to the media before subject proceedings for installation of necessary equipment and wiring. The presiding judge, Chief Judge, Court Administrator, or media coordinator may require media representatives to attend a meeting to discuss the placement of cameras, microphones and other equipment to be used to cover subject proceedings.
b. All wiring must be located as to not constitute a safety hazard or an obstruction to pedestrian traffic.
c. Satellite trucks must 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.
d. Media representatives interested in covering a court proceeding must provide the Court Administrator’s office with sufficient notice of their intent so that appropriate arrangements can be made for media personnel/equipment.
e. If the Court and/or counties incur expenses to make accommodations for media coverage of a subject proceeding, media representatives must provide reimbursement for said expenses.
IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that Administrative Order P-2006-046 is hereby rescinded.
TO BE RECORDED in Flagler, Putnam, St. Johns and Volusia counties.
DONE AND ORDERED in Daytona Beach, Volusia County, Florida this 15th day of June 2007.
/s/ William A. Parsons
WILLIAM A. PARSONS