Courts & Corrections

New rules address public recording of audio, images in court

John Dooley
Retired Justice John Dooley is heading a committee that drafted the proposed rules. File photo by Elizabeth Hewitt/VTDigger
The Vermont Supreme Court will hold a public hearing Aug. 3 to collect input on proposed changes to the rules governing the use of recording technology in courthouses.

The new rules are aimed specifically at regulating recording by nonmedia members of the public. The rules would cover the Vermont Supreme Court and the superior courts.

Enacted in 1988, the existing rules are nearly 30 years old and were written for a different technological era, said retired Justice John Dooley. He is the chair of a special committee composed of judges, court administrators, members of the Supreme Court’s procedural rules committees and media representatives that was convened to draft an updated set of rules.

“Of course, as we all know, technology has changed markedly,” Dooley said.

A news release about the hearing says the proposed rules are designed for a world in which “the ability to record and transmit images and sound” belongs to “any person in a courthouse or courtroom with a smartphone or other portable electronic device.”

“What we got from the judges was, ‘We want standards on that,’” said Dooley. “In other words, having the judge constantly having to pay attention to whether someone is popping up with a cellphone and all of that sort of thing is just going to make it much harder to manage the courtroom.”

The proposal bans members of the public who aren’t participating in court proceedings from making or transmitting visual recordings. It also sets up a preregistration process for members of the media and prohibits them from using devices to record dictation or take selfies.

Dooley encouraged the public to read the proposal and attend the hearing at 11 a.m. in Room 11 at the Statehouse.

People can also submit written comments by Sept. 18 to [email protected]

Links to the draft rules are on the judiciary website.

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Cyrus Ready-Campbell

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  • David Usher

    Links to the proposed rules should be in this story.