RULE 30: MEDIA GUIDELINES
A. Media Access.
(1) Coverage Generally. Media coverage of public judicial proceedings in the courts of this State shall be allowed in accordance with the provisions of this rule. The coverage shall be subject, at all times, to the authority of the presiding judge to (i) control the conduct of the proceedings before the court; (ii) maintain decorum and prevent distractions; (iii) guarantee the safety of any party, witness, or juror; and (iv) ensure the fair and impartial administration of justice in the pending cause.
(2) Requests for Media Coverage. Requests by representatives of the media for such coverage must be made in writing to the presiding judge not less than two (2) business days before the proceeding is scheduled to begin. The presiding judge may waive the two-day requirement at his or her discretion.
(3) Notification of Request. Notification that the media has requested such coverage shall be provided by the Clerk of the particular court to the attorneys of record in the case. Such notification may be waived by the judge at the clerk’s request if the request is made for media coverage of all or part of a docket. If the judge waives notification, the clerk shall post a notice with the docket in a conspicuous place outside the courtroom. The notice must state that the proceedings will be covered by the media, and that any person may request a continuance when the docket is called. Such continuance shall be granted only if the person can show that he or she was prejudiced by the lack of notice, and that there is good cause to refuse, limit, terminate or temporarily suspend media coverage pursuant to section D(2).
(1) “Coverage” means any recording or broadcasting of a court proceeding by the media using television, radio, photographic, or recording equipment.
(2) “Media” means legitimate news gathering and reporting agencies and their representatives whose function is to inform the public, or persons engaged in the preparation of educational films or recordings.
(3) “Proceeding” means any trial, hearing, motion, argument on appeal, or other matter held in open court that the public is entitled to attend. For the purposes of section C of this rule, “proceeding”includes any activity in the building in which the judicial proceeding is being held or any official duty performed in any location as part of the judicial proceeding.
(4) “Presiding Judge” means the judge, justice, master, referee or other judicial officer who is scheduled to preside, or is presiding, over the proceedings.
(5) “Minor” means any person under eighteen (18) years of age.
(1) Minor Participants. Media coverage of a witness, party, or victim who is a minor is prohibited in any judicial proceeding, except when a minor is being tried for a criminal offense as an adult.
(2) Jury Selection. Media coverage of jury selection is prohibited.
(3) Jurors. Media coverage of jurors during the judicial proceeding is also prohibited.
(4) Closed Proceedings. Media coverage of proceedings which are otherwise closed to the public by law is prohibited.
(5) Juvenile Court Proceedings. In juvenile court proceedings, if the court receives a request for media coverage, the court will notify the parties and their counsel of the request, and prior to the beginning of the proceedings, the court will advise the accused, the parties, and the witnesses of their personal right to object, and that if consent is given, it must be in writing. Objections by a witness will suspend media coverage as to that person only during the proceeding, whereas objections by the accused in a criminal case or any party to a civil action will prohibit media coverage of the entire proceeding.
(6) Conferences of Counsel. There shall be no audio pickup, recording, broadcast, or video close up of conferences, which occur in a court facility, between attorneys and their clients, between co-counsel of a client, between counsel and the presiding judge held at the bench or in chambers, or between judges in an appellate proceeding.
(1) Discretion of Presiding Judge. The presiding judge has the discretion to refuse, limit, terminate, or temporarily suspend, media coverage of an entire case or portions thereof, in order to (i) control the conduct of the proceedings before the court; (ii) maintain decorum and prevent distractions; (iii) guarantee the safety of any party, witness, or juror; and (iv) ensure the fair administration of justice in the pending cause. Such exercise of the presiding judge’s discretion shall be made following the procedures established in section D(2).
(2) Evidentiary Hearing. Before denying, limiting, suspending, or terminating media coverage, the presiding judge shall hold an evidentiary hearing, if such a hearing will not delay or disrupt the judicial proceeding. In the event that an evidentiary hearing is not possible, affidavits may be used. The burden of proof shall be on the party seeking limits on media coverage. If there is no opposition to media coverage, the presiding judge may consider matters that are properly the subject of judicial notice. Media requesting coverage shall be allowed to present proof, either at the evidentiary hearing or by affidavit. Any finding that media coverage should be denied, limited, suspended or terminated must be supported by substantial evidence that at least one of the four interests in section D(1) is involved, and that such denial, limitation, suspension, or termination is necessary to adequately reach an accommodation of such interest. The presiding judge shall enter written findings of fact detailing the substantial evidence required to support his or her order.
E. Appellate Review.
Appellate review of a presiding judge’s decision to terminate, suspend, limit, or exclude media coverage shall be in accordance with Rule 10 of the Tennessee Rules of Appellate Procedure.
F. Equipment and Personnel.
(1) Limitations. At least one, but no more than two television cameras with one operator each, two still photographers using not more than two cameras each, and one audio system for radio broadcast purposes, will be permitted in any judicial proceeding.
(2) Pooling Arrangements. When more than one request for media coverage is made, the media shall select a representative to serve as a liaison and be responsible for arranging “pooling”among the media that may be required by these limitations on equipment and personnel. The identity of the person selected, including name, business address, phone and fax number, shall be filed with the clerk of the court in which the proceeding is to be held. Pooling arrangements shall be reached when the court is not in session and shall be the sole responsibility of the media without calling upon the presiding judge to mediate any dispute as to the appropriate media representative or equipment authorized to cover a particular proceeding. Such pooling arrangements shall include the designation of pool operators, procedures for cost sharing, access to and dissemination of material, and selection of a pool representative if appropriate. In the absence of advance media agreement on disputed equipment or personnel issues, the presiding judge shall exclude all contesting media personnel from a proceeding.
(3) Personal Recorders. Media personnel may use hand-held cassette tape recorders that are no more sensitive then the human ear without complying with section (A)(2) of this rule. Such recorders are to be used for the making of sound recordings as personal notes of the proceedings, and shall not be used for any other purpose, including broadcast. Usage shall not be obtrusive or distracting, and no change of tape shall be made during court sessions.
(4) Print Media. This rule does not govern the coverage of a proceeding by a news reporter or other person who is not using a camera or electronic equipment.
G. Sound and Light Criteria.
(1) Distractions. Only television, photographic and audio equipment which does not produce distracting sound or light shall be employed to cover proceedings in a court facility. Signal lights or devices to show when equipment is operating shall not be visible. Moving lights, flash attachments, or sudden light changes shall not be used.
(2) Courtroom Light Source. If possible, lighting for all purposes shall be accomplished from existing court facility light sources. If no technically suitable lighting exists in the court facility, modifications and additions may be made in light sources existing in the facility, provided such modifications and additions are unobtrusive, located in places designated in advance of any proceeding by the presiding judge, and without public expense.
(3) Audio Pickup. Audio pickup for all purposes shall be accomplished from existing audio systems present in the court facility or from a television camera’s built-in microphone. If no technically suitable audio system exists in the court facility, microphones and related wiring essential for media purposes shall be unobtrusive and shall be located in places designated in advance of any proceeding by the presiding judge.
(4) Technical Difficulties. Court proceedings shall not be interrupted by media personnel because of a technical or equipment problem. If any problem occurs, that piece of equipment shall be turned off while the proceeding is in session. No attempt shall be made to correct the technical or equipment problem until the proceeding is in recess or has concluded.
H. Location of Equipment and Conduct of Media Personnel.
(1) Location of Equipment and Personnel. The presiding judge shall designate the location in the courtroom for media equipment and operators to permit reasonable coverage without disruption of proceedings.
(2) Alterations. No permanent installation shall be made nor shall any court facility be altered, unless approved in advance by the presiding judge. Expenses for alterations shall be borne by the media.
(3) Movement During Proceedings. During proceedings, operating personnel shall not move about nor make any adjustment or change of any equipment which disrupts or distracts from the proceeding. Media broadcast, photographic or audio equipment shall not be placed in or removed from the court facility except prior to commencement or after adjournment of proceedings each day, or during a recess in the proceeding.
(4) Conduct of Media Personnel. Media personnel assigned to cover a judicial proceeding shall attire and deport themselves in such a way that will not detract from the proceeding.
I. Impermissible Use of Media Material.
None of the film, videotape, still photographs, or audio recordings of proceedings under this Rule shall be admissible as evidence in the proceeding out of which it arose, any proceedings subsequent and collateral thereto, or upon any retrial or appeal of such proceeding.
J. Ceremonial Proceedings.
This Rule shall not limit media coverage of investiture, ceremonial, or nonjudicial proceedings conducted in court facilities under such terms and conditions as may be established by prior consent of the presiding judge.
Media personnel who fail to comply with this rule shall be subject to an appropriate sanction as determined by the presiding judge.
[Adopted by order entered December 14, 1995; amended by order entered December 30, 1996; amended by order entered December 6, 1999.]