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Detailed Guide: Mississippi

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Allows Cameras? Yes (with notice)
Exceptions: Closed proceedings

Audio or Video Webcast? Yes
Media Guide Available? No
Allows Cell Phones to Record Video? No

Mississippi’s Rules for Electronic and Photographic Coverage of Judicial Proceedings permit electronic media coverage of judicial proceedings (trial, pre-trial hearings, post-trial hearings, and appellate arguments) in Mississippi’s Supreme Court, Court of Appeals, chancery courts, circuit courts and county courts. The media is required to notify the clerk and the court of any plans to cover a proceeding at least 48 hours prior to the proceeding.

Electronic coverage is subject to the authority of the presiding judge who may limit or terminate coverage at any time if there is a need to (1) control the conduct of the proceedings; (2) ensure decorum and prevent distraction; or (3) ensure fair administration of justice. Any party may object by written motion, filed no later than 15 days prior to the proceeding, unless good cause allows for a shorter filing period.

The media must comply with certain coverage restrictions. Electronic coverage of police informants, minors, undercover agents, relocated witnesses, victims and families of victims of sex crimes, victims of domestic abuse, and members or potential members of the jury (before their final dismissal) is expressly prohibited. In addition, audio recordings of off-the-record conferences and coverage of closed proceedings are also prohibited. Similarly, coverage of divorce, child custody, support, guardianship, conservatorship, commitment, waiver of parental consent to abortion, adoption, delinquency and neglect of minors, paternity proceedings, termination of parental rights, domestic abuse, motions to suppress evidence, proceedings involving trade secrets, and in camera proceedings are prohibited unless authorized by the presiding judge.

Only one television camera, one video recorder, one audio system, and one still camera are allowed in the courtroom at one time and the media are responsible for pooling arrangements. If the media cannot agree to a pooling arrangement, all contesting media personnel shall be excluded from the proceeding. Electronic media coverage may not distract from the courtroom proceedings, and in accordance with this principle, no artificial, flash, or strobe lighting is allowed in the courtroom without the notification and approval of the presiding judge. All wires must be taped to the floor, and equipment may only be moved before or after a proceeding or during a recess. The presiding judge may “relax” the technical restrictions so long as no distractions are created.

In 2005, the Mississippi Supreme Court, in In re WLBT, Inc., set aside a circuit court’s order to prohibit television coverage of a high profile case. The court stated that “the complete exclusion of cameras should be resorted to only after less restrictive measures have been considered and found to be inadequate.” In this case, the lower court judge failed to give sufficient reasons for denying television coverage, so the high court held in favor of coverage.

In the Mississippi Supreme Court and Court of Appeals, both housed in the Carroll Gartin Justice Building, laptops are permitted. Cell phones are also permitted in the courtroom, however, they must be turned off. The appellate courts do not allow members of the general public to use tape recording devices, video recording devices, or cameras unless the individual has permission.

Links: Authority
In re WLBT, Imc., 905 So.2d 1196 (Miss. 2005)
Mississippi Rules for Electronic and Photographic Coverage of Judicial Proceedings

Links: Other
Frequently Asked Questions: Media
Visitor Guide to the Carroll Gartin Justice Building
Video Webcast: Mississippi Supreme Court
Video Webcast: Mississippi Court of Appeals

Last edited: December 13, 2022