In the Circuit Court of the Twelfth Judicial Circuit in and for
DeSoto, Manatee, and Sarasota Counties, Florida
Administrative Order: 2023–10.2
Photography, Recording and
Broadcasting in Court Facilities
Pursuant to Article V, Section 2(d) of the Florida Constitution, the Chief Judge is responsible for the administrative supervision of the courts in this circuit.
Florida Rule of General Practice and Judicial Administration 2.450 (hereafter “Rule 2.450”) provides for technological coverage of judicial proceedings, but Rule 2.450 does not authorize photography, recording or broadcasting in the corridors, hallways, or lobbies of court facilities because such actions in these areas has the potential of disrupting other court proceedings and functions, compromising security operations, and creating safety hazards.
Florida Rule of General Practice and Judicial Administration 2.215(b) authorizes the Chief Judge to regulate the use of court facilities, and the undersigned Chief Judge hereby delegates authority under Rule 2.450 to the presiding judges for determining location of media equipment in the courtrooms.
There is no uniform, statewide definition for “media” that has kept pace with the rapidly evolving use of new methods of gathering and disseminating information and news to the public. This poses significant challenges to the Court, as traditional media (newspaper, television, and radio) are easy to identify and define, but another new type of media, associated with the internet and social media has developed, which has yet to be addressed by court rule or by the Florida Supreme Court.
While the Court has broad discretion to permit the use of electronic devices during court proceedings, there is no rule or statute specifically allowing the use of laptop computers, smart phones, or similar devices in a courtroom. Therefore, the media must be required to provide credentials for the privilege of using equipment that is not generally allowed otherwise. The display of proper credentials or employer-provided identification is the most effective, least burdensome method available to determine who is authorized to use certain equipment in court facilities.
The court must carefully balance the media’s right to share news and the public’s right of access to the courts with the dignity of the judicial process and the safety concerns of the public. In December 2020, this court entered Administrative Order 2020-23a.2, regarding Photography, Recording and Broadcasting in Court Facilities. For the efficient and proper administration of justice in the Twelfth Judicial Circuit, it is necessary to update the guidelines and procedures regarding photography, recording and broadcasting in court facilities.
Therefore, in accordance with Article V, section 7, Florida Constitution, Rule of General Practice and Judicial Administration 2.215, and section 43.26, Florida Statutes, it is hereby ordered and adjudged as follows:
– for purposes of this Administrative Order, the following definitions apply:
 - Pursuant to section 29.008(l)(a) Florida Statutes: “Facility” means reasonable and necessary buildings and office space and appurtenant equipment and furnishings, structures, real estate, easements and related interests in real estate, including but not limited to, those for the purpose of housing legal materials for use by the general public and personnel, equipment or functions of the circuit or county courts, public defender’s offices, state attorneys’ offices, and court-related functions of the office of the clerks of the circuit and county courts and all storage. The term ‘facility’ includes all wiring necessary for court reporting services. The term also includes access to parking for such facilities in connection with such court-related functions that may be available free or from a private provider or a local government for a fee.
The chief judge has determined that pursuant to section 29.008(1)(a), the following facilities are “court facilities” in the Twelfth Judicial Circuit:
- Manatee County Judicial Center, 1051 Manatee Avenue West, Bradenton;
- Historic Manatee County Courthouse, 1115 Manatee Avenue West, Bradenton;
- The Judge Lynn N. Silvertooth Judicial Center, 2002 Ringling Blvd, Sarasota;
- Criminal Justice Center, 6th Floor, 2071 Ringling Blvd., Sarasota, including the public entrance and lobby on the first floor of the building and the public elevators;
- Sarasota Historic Courthouse, 2000 Main Street, Sarasota;
- Sarasota Treatment Court Offices, Bayou Professional Building, 1751 Mound Street, Suite 101B, Sarasota;
- South County Courthouse, 4004 S. Tamiami Trail, Venice;
- DeSoto County Courthouse, 115 East Oak Street, Arcadia;
- Desoto County Probation and Treatment Court Offices, 126 N. Hillsborough Ave., Arcadia;
- Facilities ancillary to the courthouses accessed by the public for the purpose of conducting the necessary business of the courts as required by the constitution, statutes, or court rules; and
- Any other facilities subsequently designated for court or court-related functions.
“Electronic Court Proceedings”
(hereafter referred to as “ECP”) - means court proceedings that utilize remote appearance technology utilizing multiple party, two-way audio and/or video communication, including videoconferencing technology, Zoom and TEAMS software..
– all equipment, including cameras, that may be used for:
- Wireless communication; or
- Receiving, creating, capturing, storing, retrieving, sending, or broadcasting any signals or any text, sound, or images; or
- Accessing the Internet or any other network or off-site system or equipment for communicating or for storing or retrieving information.
Electronic devices include, without limitation, film cameras, digital cameras, video cameras, any other type of camera, cellular or satellite telephones, Apple watches, tape recorders, digital voice recorders, and any other type of audio recorders, laptop computers, personal digital assistants, video glasses, tablets, or other similar technological devices with the ability to make or transmit video recordings, audio recordings, images, text, or data.
“Photography, Recording Or Broadcasting”
- means using portable television cameras, still cameras, body cameras, cellular telephone cameras, laptops, tablets, computers, audio system equipment or any other electronic device or means to take a photograph, make a video, make a record, or transmit.
“Media or Professional Journalist”
– a person regularly engaged in collecting, photographing, recording, writing, editing, reporting, or publishing news, for gain or livelihood, who obtained the information sought while working as a salaried employee of, or independent contractor for, a newspaper, news journal, news agency, press association, wire service, radio or television station, network, or news magazine.
– digital, computerized or networked information and communication technologies, not directly associated with traditional print and/or broadcast media entities and defined as “An online entity which is an established, independent site containing regularly updated original news content above and beyond links, forums, troubleshooting tips and reader contributions, and whose content is thoroughly reviewed by an independent editor before publication and has a readership of more than 1,000 hits per month. Fan sites, web logs or blogs, and personal websites do not qualify as “new media.”
The requesting new media entity must show proof it meets the definition of media. The chief judge or the chief judge’s designee will determine whether an entity is media. To obtain media privileges, those entities meeting the definition of “new media” must submit the following, as well as any additional information which may be requested:
- Links to two byline articles clearly displaying publication title and published within the past six months of the date of request; and
- A copy of the current masthead or business card with the name, title and media entity’s logo or a copy of the online publication homepage and the masthead page with the media representative’s name and title appearing in an editorial capacity, or an official letter of assignment from the media entity.
- No person, which includes but is not limited to, photographers, videographers, news reporters, social media influencers or other media personnel shall obstruct or impede in any way, the progress of a person on their way into or out from any courtroom or judicial chambers or office, nor shall any person obstruct the ingress or egress of court facilities.
Limitations on Photography, Recording or Broadcasting in Court Facilities
- Except as provided in this subsection, photography, recording, and broadcasting are prohibited in the lobbies of all court facilities. Any person or organization seeking to use the lobby in any court facility for photography, recording or broadcasting shall provide a written request to the chief judge or the chief judge’s designee no fewer than five days in advance. Permission to photograph, record or broadcast in the lobby of any court facility is within the discretion of the chief judge or the chief judge’s designee and may include restrictions, including time of day and duration.
Jury Assembly Rooms
– photography, recording, and broadcasting are prohibited in the jury assembly rooms in all court facilities. This prohibition includes facilities owned and operated by other branches of government or private entities when such facility is being used as a jury assembly room (e.g., county commission chambers, auditorium, etc.)
Corridors and Hallways
- Photography, recording, and broadcasting are prohibited in all corridors or hallways of all court facilities unless otherwise authorized the chief judge or the chief judge’s designee. Any person or organization seeking to use the corridor or hallway of any court facility for photography, recording or broadcasting shall provide a written request to the chief judge or the chief judge’s designee no fewer than five days in advance. Permission to photograph, record or broadcast in the corridor or hallway of any court facility is within the discretion of the chief judge or the chief judge’s designee and may include restrictions, including time of day and duration.
Staircases and Stairwells
– Photography, recording, and broadcasting are prohibited in all staircases and stairwells in all court facilities.
– When court is in session, and subject to the limitations enumerated in Rule 2.450(a), media coverage of judicial proceedings is permitted. The position of any cameras, audio system equipment or any other electronic devices to take photographs, make a record or transmit as a broadcast shall be determined by the presiding judge. The court’s Public Information Officer (PIO) may assist the presiding judge in determining the appropriate courtroom location for the media equipment and number of cameras permitted.
Media representatives may use cell phones, laptop computers or similar electronic devices for texting, organizational functions, research and writing, and other data transmission functions. Laptops must operate silently on the user’s lap and must not require additional seating space, cabling of extension cords or power supply. Electronic devices cannot be used to record or send photographs, video, or audio. Cell phones must be placed in either silent or vibrate mode. A presiding judge has the discretion to exclude laptop computers or similar devices, or other portable electronic devices from the courtroom.
Other than media, no individual or organization may photograph, record, or broadcast from a courtroom, regardless of whether court is in session. There are two exceptions:
- A presiding judge may permit photography, recording or broadcasting with consent of all parties for adoption proceedings.
- When a courtroom is used for educational or other purposes, such as informative programming, mock trials, or ceremonies, photography, recording or broadcasting may be permitted by the chief judge, the chief judge’s designee, or the presiding judge.
– Jurors and potential jurors may not use electronic devices in courtrooms during judicial proceedings or in jury rooms during, or in connection with, deliberations. Grand jurors may not use electronic devices during, or in connection with, any proceedings before, or deliberations by, the grand jury.
– Judges may grant permission to photograph, record or broadcast in his/her judicial chambers after notifying the chief judge or the chief judge’s designee.
Noise Reduction and Public Safety
– All photography, recording and broadcasting permitted in court facilities under this Administrative Order shall be conducted in such a fashion as to cause minimum noise and distraction. Devices must be silenced, and only silent keyboards are allowed. All cables or wires must be placed in a manner so as not to constitute a safety hazard or an obstruction to pedestrian traffic.
. Court security personnel will screen all electronic devices before permitting them to be brought into court facilities. The purpose of this screening is to ensure that the items do not contain weapons, dangerous devices or materials, or contraband. Court security personnel may bar any item that appears to pose a threat to security or safety from entering the court facility.
Body Cameras and Video Glasses
– The use of body cameras by law enforcement officers or others, is prohibited in all court facilities. Additionally, the use of body cameras while officers are testifying remotely is prohibited. Body cameras must be turned off when a law enforcement officer is testifying in court from a remote location. The use of video recording glasses inside a court facility is expressly prohibited.
Photography, Recording or Broadcasting of Exteriors of Court Facilities
– Photography, recording and broadcasting of the outside the court facilities is permitted, subject to the security guidelines set forth in Administrative Order 2022-10.2 and the conduct prohibited in section 2 of this order.
No Photography, Recording or Broadcasting of Electronic Court Proceedings
(ECP) – Photography, recording or broadcasting an ECP is strictly prohibited. This includes all parties, witnesses, attorneys, observers, photographers, videographers, news reporters, social media influencers and other media personnel. Law enforcement officers participating or testifying in ECP must turn off their body cameras. There are two exceptions, both related to court reporting:
- The Court may digitally record the ECP pursuant to statute, rule, or the circuit’s Court Reporting plan.
- For ECP not required to be digitally recorded by the Court, and with the Court’s knowledge, parties may provide an Approved Court Reporter who is properly identified at the beginning of the ECP, for purposes of making an official record of the ECP.
Compliance With Rule 2.450
– This Administrative Order in no way is intended to restrict the ability of the media to cover public judicial proceedings as provided in Rule 2.450.
– A copy of this Administrative Order shall be posted on the court’s website (www.jud12.flcourts.org) and signs referencing this Administrative Order shall be posted at the entrance of each court facility.
– Any non-approved photography, recording or broadcasting of court proceedings violates Rule 2.450. Any person who willfully violates Rules 2.450 or this Administrative Order shall be subject to sanctions, including, but not limited to, the court’s contempt authority, immediate removal from the courtroom or court facility, prohibition from returning to the courtroom or court facility, and if media or professional journalist, loss of media privileges.
Previous Administrative Order Superseded
– This Administrative Order supersedes Administrative Order 2020-23a.2.
– This Administrative Order is effective immediately.
Done and ordered in chambers in Sarasota County, Florida on this 30th day of June, 2023.
Charles E. Roberts
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