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Detailed Guide: District Of Columbia

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Allows Cameras? No
Exceptions: Request permission to take photographs

Audio or Video Webcast? Yes
Media Guide Available? Yes
Allows Cell Phones to Record Video? Yes

DC courts do not allow members of the media or individuals to photograph or record courts proceedings. Superior Court Rule of Civil Procedure 201(g) prohibits photographs, broadcasts, or tapes for public replay of any civil proceeding. Superior Court Rule of Criminal Procedure 53(b) prohibits photographs, broadcasts, and mechanical recording devices; however, there are two exceptions. First, the court may make an exception for the use of a mechanical recording device. Second, the official in charge of a particular office or room in the courthouse may give permission to take photographs; the person being photographed must also consent. Similarly, Family Court General Rule N. prohibits photographing and broadcasting in courtrooms, and allows photographing in other rooms in the Family Court with the permission of the person in charge of the room and the person being photographed.

Under Superior Court Administrative Order 11-17, people entering a Superior Court courtroom must turn off all electronic devices and store the devices in a location where they cannot be seen. Even though the general rule applies to members of the media, the order specifies that the presiding judicial officer may give members of the media permission to use electronic devices for “official business.” Even with special permission, the use of electronic devices is limited; members of the media may only use the device for court- or business-related matters, and members of the media may not use the device to photograph, record, or make transmissions of any type. Members of the media cannot make or receive calls on electronic devices.

Blogging may be allowed in DC Superior Court. According to the Journalist’s Handbook to the Courts in the District of Columbia, a blogger must request permission to live-blog from a courtroom in advance of the proceeding, and the decision is entirely subject to the judge’s discretion. Members of the media who do not comply with District of Columbia rules may be ejected from the courtroom or found in civil or criminal contempt.

Links: Authority
Superior Court Rule of Civil Procedure 201(g): Restriction on the Use of Electronic Recording Devices, Photography, and Broadcasting
Superior Court Rule of Criminal Procedure 53(b): Photographing, Broadcasting, Recording
Family Court General Rule N.: Recording of Court Proceedings
Superior Court Administrative Order 11-17: Possession and Use of Electronic Devices in the Superior Court Courtrooms and Hearing Rooms

Links: Other
Journalist’s Handbook to the Courts in the District of Columbia
DC Court of Appeals Oral Arguments Video Archive
DC Court of Appeals YouTube and Oral Argument Livestream

Last edited: December 12, 2022