New Courthouse Electronics Policy Begins Tuesday
URBANA, Ill. (WCIA) – People stopping by the Champaign County Courthouse next Tuesday will be able to bring their cellphone, tablet or other electronic device inside – provided they follow a set of rules strict.
A recent order Presiding Judge Randy Rosenbaum removes some restrictions on the current policy, which does not allow ordinary people to bring devices inside. Lawyers, media and other courthouse staff can do this.
Highlights of this new order include:
- Devices can be used in lobbies and hallways as long as they do not disturb or threaten others.
- The devices, with some exceptions, cannot be used to record people involved in cases, such as a witness in a trial.
- Ordinary people cannot use a device in a courtroom, with some exceptions. For example, people can check their calendar to see availability for a future court date.
- No one can take photos or videos during a hearing except members of the media who have prior authorization.
- People cannot use a device to talk to a juror or potential witness.
- Recording equipment – such as a camera – cannot be brought into the courthouse except for an approved event, such as a wedding, graduation from a problem-solving court, or media covering a case.
The order states that anyone who breaks the rules can be kicked out of the courthouse or found in contempt of court, which could mean jail time. Officials could also take the person’s device until they leave.
Judge Rosenbaum’s change gives more freedom and convenience to people who need their device at the courthouse for a legitimate purpose, such as a juror reading an e-book to pass the time or someone showing up in court to check on documents. However, sheriff’s deputies guarding the courthouse will now have to be on alert for people misusing their phones.
Urbana’s courthouse device policy has varied over the years. Retired judge Tom Difanis had tightened the rules over fears witnesses would be harassed and taped.
On January 6, the Illinois Supreme Court adopted a policy saying that every county courthouse must have device rules. Among other things, the High Court said courthouses that prohibit ordinary people from bringing devices inside must provide free storage.
“Courts have to adapt over time, and this is an important way to meet the needs of the courts.
users,” Chief Justice Anne M. Burke said in a statement. “It’s no longer realistic to ask people to leave their cells
telephones and other electronic devices at home when visiting courthouses.