South Florida Corruption

Justice will not be served until those who are unaffected are as outraged as those who are

Hover Over Items In Main Menu To View Sub-Menus

south-florida-corruption-logo
Our YouTube Channel

CURRENT NEWS-------JQC Dismisses Ethics Charges Against John Contini-On Friday August 03, 2018, The Florida JQC (Judicial Qualifications Commission), dismissed the charges they filed only eleven days prior against the former judge.-------JQC Files New Charges Against Former Broward Judge John Contini-On Monday July 23, 2018, The Florida Judicial Qualifications Commission filed formal charges against former Broward circuit court judge, John Patrick Contini.---------Now confirmed by the mainstream media by way of an article just published by The Broward Sun Sentinel, It’s been confirmed that Broward Circuit Judge John Contini has in fact resigned effective today, July 07, 2018, at 5:00 pm.------- Saturday June 02.---Florida Supreme Court Chief Justice Avoids Meeting with Broward Judges->>>>>>>Why did the chief judge cancel?- “An implied warning for judicial “leakers” to a blog that only wants to make them look bad, and a confirmation that the Chief Justice cancelled his trip to avoid a circus after the announcement appeared on the blog.”>>>>> Chief Administrative Judge Jack Tuter said Saturday that he is telling Circuit Court Judge Merrilee Ehrlich not to return to the courthouse because of how she treated Sandra Twiggs.>>>>>Howard Finkelstein: Judge Lazarus Should Be Removed From Hearing All Future Criminal Matters-This is an update of a story we did last week about Broward County Judge Joel T. Lazarus, and the statements he made while presiding over First Appearance/Bond Court, on Friday, January 19th. Apparently it got the attention of the Broward County Public Defender, Howard Finkelstein.------Broward County judge Joel Lazarus, was caught on a “Hot Mic” fifteen minutes before he presided over Friday’s morning session of magistrate, or first appearance/bond court, stating to prosecutors: “I double the bonds, for those that take place in my neighborhood”.------>>>>

RECORDING COURT HEARINGS

RECORDING COURT HEARINGS

 

 

 

We’ve had quite a few people ask us the question;

“Can I record my court hearing in Florida with my smart phone or a small video camera?”

 

The answer surprisingly is yes in most cases in Florida state courts, although it still is prohibited in federal trial courts in Florida.

 

For more than two decades, cameras have been allowed in Florida courtrooms.

 

Subject to clearly defined rules, cameras may be excluded from Florida state courts only after an evidentiary finding that their presence would have a substantial effect on a trial participant.

 

Trial participant could be a defendant, or maybe even a witness. If it’s a jury trial, you will not be allowed to capture any of the jurors.

 

This substantial effect must be qualitatively different from the effect on members of the public generally and from that of coverage by other types of media.

 

Camera coverage is usually objected to by criminal defendants who claim the coverage violates their constitutional rights. Claiming that media coverage would make them appear guilty to the jury.

 

So if you are a defendant in a criminal case, you should be able to video record your own hearing or trial. You’re the defendant, and you certainly are not objecting.

 

From The Florida Bar

Cameras in the Courtroom
 by Dana J. McElroy and Allison S. Lovelady

https://www.floridabar.org/news/resources/rpt-hbk-06/

 

Question: Under what circumstances may cameras be excluded from a Florida state courtroom?

 

Answer: In general, cameras may be excluded from a courtroom in Florida if the person asking the judge to do so produces evidence to prove: (i) that the presence of the cameras has a qualitatively different effect on that person than on other people and (ii) that effect is qualitatively different from the effect of other types of media (such as print or radio). If the person trying to exclude the cameras is a criminal defendant, they must produce evidence to demonstrate the cameras prevent them from getting a fair trial. (See FLORIDA RULES OF JUDICIAL ADMINISTRATION Rule 2.450. Technological Coverage of Judicial Proceedings-Below).

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It hasn’t always been that way though.

 

For most of the twentieth century, cameras and other electronic media were banned from almost all courtrooms.

 

The ban on cameras from courtrooms goes back to the 1935 trial of Bruno Hauptmann, who was tried for kidnapping and murdering the son of the famous pilot Charles Lindbergh.

 

That trial attracted hundreds of journalists and photographers from around the world, along with all the distractions and disruptions that came along with the old technology of the time.

 

One of the end results of the massive press coverage at the trial is that in 1937 the American Bar Association adopted Canon 35 of the American Bar Association’s, (ABA), Canons of Judicial Ethics. Canon 35 recommended a ban of electronic media from courtrooms.

 

Not long after, the federal courts and all of the states adopted rules prohibiting electronic media in courtrooms. With very few exceptions, cameras and other electronic media were banned from all courtrooms until the late 1970’s.

 

In the late 1970’s Florida started to experiment with cameras in the courtroom. The Florida experiment allowed electronic media coverage of judicial proceedings. That program resulted in an appeal to the United States Supreme Court and a landmark ruling.

 

In 1981, two Miami Beach police officers appealed their burglary convictions and argued that camera coverage, pursuant to the experimental program, had violated their constitutional right to a fair and impartial trial.

 

The United States Supreme Court ruled that the Constitution does not prohibit states from permitting cameras in judicial proceedings. (See Chandler v. Florida, 449 U.S. 560 (1981).

 

The Florida Supreme Court reviewed results of the pilot program and ruled that allowing cameras in state courtrooms did not violate a defendant’s constitutional rights. The court also approved a change to the judicial rules that had prohibited camera coverage.

 

The court amended the Florida Code of Judicial Conduct to allow camera coverage of judicial proceedings, subject to the authority of the presiding judge to control conduct and decorum of the proceedings and to ensure the fair administration of justice. Florida Code of Judicial Conduct-Rule 2.450.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

What to Do When Someone Asks 

To Exclude the Cameras

 

 

From the Florida Bar

Click Here to read on The Florida Bar website.

 

You have a right to object to efforts to exclude cameras and to request that the judge follow the procedures established by the Florida Supreme Court.

 

If someone asks the judge to exclude the cameras, use the suggested form of statement set out by The Florida Bar in the Reporters Handbook, Cameras in the Courtroom.

 

"I am not an attorney, but I understand the Florida Supreme Court permits cameras to be present in Florida courtrooms, and have established a test that must be met before the cameras can be excluded. At the very least, the law requires that a hearing be held, with the press and public having an opportunity to be heard through counsel, prior to closure. I therefore request such a hearing so our attorney can be heard on our behalf."

 

 

So you see, cameras in Florida state courts are pretty well a given with a few exceptions such as juvenile proceedings and civil family court, especially when those hearings involve minors.

 

So if I want to record my court hearing, what is the best way to do it?

 

First and above all, if you have an attorney, listen to them no matter what you read somewhere else. You’re paying them good money so take their advice. Show them this article, and the publications by The Florida Bar, it’s possible they may not know this.

 

Disclaimer:

We are not lawyers and this is not to be taken as legal advice. Always consult a licensed attorney for legal advice.

 

For those that are braving the legal system on your own, maybe a traffic ticket or municipal ordinance, here’s what we suggest:

 

 

1). First, giving as much advance notice as possible, contacting the judges Judicial assistant, that’s the judge’s secretary, and give them notice of your intent to record your hearing.

You can find the information you need about the judges judicial assistant, phone numbers and addresses at the appropriate court’s website. For the South Florida Tri-County area, click on one of these links.

 

Broward County         17th Judicial Circuit

 

Miami-Dade County   11th Judicial Circuit

 

Palm Beach County   15th Judicial Circuit

 

Make sure they understand you’re not wanting to bring in a video production crew, just a smartphone, or small portable camera. If they tell you the judge is fine with it, you should be good to go the day of your hearing.

 

If they tell you there may be a problem, then we also suggest you put it in writing, (Notice of Intent to Video Record Proceedings.), and file it with the clerk of the court under your case number, bring at least three copies. You also have to supply the state with a copy for criminal, or all parties involved if it’s civil. If you do anticipate a problem, it’s a real good idea to also give a copy to the Chief Judge of the circuit.

 

This is not an actual form, but it puts the court on notice of your intent, if you anticipate a problem.

 

While you’re at the courthouse, you can just hand deliver a copy to the judge’s Judicial Assistant, you should supply them also with a copy.

 

If you run into any resistance, point out to them the publications by the Florida Bar, and the Rules of Judicial Administration, printed below this article. Remind them, you are the defendant, and “you” do not object to cameras.

 

Most judges are aware of this, so you probably won’t have a problem, but some judges are either unaware or they just oppose it

 

2). We suggest is that you bring a portable camera along with your smartphone. Some judges have very strict rules about cell phones even being turned on in their courtrooms with no exceptions. That portable camera is not a cell phone.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

3). Bring someone with you to record. Although you can record yourself, it is difficult and the court may find it distracting while trying to talk to you and the judge could end up telling you midway to put it down.

 

If you have someone else record for you, know this. You cannot bring any artificial lighting; you have to rely on what the court has, that includes using a flash with the camera. You have to pick a place to record from, we suggest either sitting behind the defendant, or standing off to one side. The judge may tell you where to take the video from.

 

You want to get the judge and the witnesses, (seated next to the judge), in the shot. You CANNOT move around the courtroom so pick a spot and stick with it. If you become a distraction, the court will tell you to stop recording. Also bring a picture ID with you, more than likely the court will require you to state your name and show ID.

 

You are NOT allowed to capture any conversations between attorneys and their clients, or between the judge and attorneys during a sidebar, (When the judge calls the lawyers to the bench to talk to them).

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Word of Caution!

 

If you are told at any point to stop recording by the judge, STOP RECORDING.

 

You’re allowed to voice an objection but don’t argue! If the judge gives you an order then follow it and don’t argue the point. You could quickly find yourself fined, jailed on the spot, or both, for contempt of court.

 

You can always file an objection later. ( Rule 2.450. Technological Coverage of Judicial Proceedings-(i) Appellate Review. Review of an order excluding the electronic media from access to any proceeding, excluding coverage of a particular participant or upon any other matters arising under these standards shall be pursuant to Florida Rule of Appellate Procedure 9.100(d).)

 

Also, under no circumstances should you broadcast your video "LIVE".

 

Things can get blurted out in courtrooms sometimes that cannot be recorded. Such as a minor child's name. The court will not allow you to broadcast live.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Few Last Things to Consider

 

 

First, before recording court hearings, be aware it may not be necessary for you to video record your hearing.

 

In Florida, trials, all court hearings, and even ex-parte motions are audio recorded. Depending on the circuit, some are even video recorded, as in the case of Broward County Bond Court.

 

You can obtain a copy of the audio recordings by contacting the judge’s office. There is a very minimal fee for processing and burning it to a disk. Also most are public record.

 

Some exceptions would be some family court hearings, or anything that involves minor children, such as juvenile proceedings.

 

Another thing to consider is that you cannot use the video you make in “ANY” future court proceedings that have to do with the case you recorded such as appeals.

 

According to the following rule of the Florida Rules of Judicial Administration;

 

(h) Impermissible Use of Media Material. None of the film, videotape, still photographs, or audio reproductions developed during or by virtue of coverage of a judicial proceeding shall be admissible as evidence in the proceeding out of which it arose, in any proceeding subsequent or collateral thereto, or upon retrial or appeal of such proceedings.

 

Note, that does not include any recordings made by the court, which you can use for those purposes.

 

 

Printed below for reference, are the Florida Rules of Judicial Administration, (FRJA), Rule 1.540. Technological Coverage of Judicial Proceedings.

 

 

 

FLORIDA RULES OF JUDICIAL ADMINISTRATION

 

Rule 2.450. Technological Coverage of Judicial Proceedings 

 

(a)Electronic and Still Photography Allowed. Subject at all times to the authority of the presiding judge to: (i) control the conduct of proceedings before the court; (ii) ensure decorum and prevent distractions; and (iii) ensure the fair administration of justice in the pending cause, electronic media and still photography coverage of public judicial proceedings in the appellate and trial courts of the state shall be allowed in accordance with the following standards of conduct and technology promulgated by the Supreme Court of Florida.

 

(b)Equipment and Personnel.

 

(1) At least 1 portable television camera operated by not more than 1 camera person, shall be permitted in any trial court or appellate court proceeding. The number of permitted cameras shall be within the sound discretion and authority of the presiding judge.

 

(2) Not more than 1 still photographer, using not more than 2 still cameras, shall be permitted in any proceeding in a trial or appellate court.

 

(3) Not more than 1 audio system for radio broadcast purposes shall be permitted in any proceeding in a trial or appellate court. Audio pickup for all media purposes shall be accomplished from existing audio systems present in the court facility. 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 chief judge of the judicial circuit or district in which the court facility is located.

 

(4) Any “pooling” arrangements among the media required by these limitations on equipment and personnel 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. 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.

 

(c) Sound and Light Criteria.

 

(1) Only television photographic and audio equipment that does not produce distracting sound or light shall be used to cover judicial proceedings. No artificial lighting device of any kind shall be used in connection with the television camera.

 

(2) Only still camera equipment that does not produce distracting sound or light shall be used to cover judicial proceedings. No artificial lighting device of any kind shall be used in connection with a still camera.

 

(3) It shall be the affirmative duty of media personnel to demonstrate to the presiding judge adequately in advance of any proceeding that the equipment sought to be used meets the sound and light criteria enunciated in this rule. A failure to obtain advance judicial approval for equipment shall preclude its use in any proceeding.

 

(d) Location of Equipment Personnel.

 

(1) Television camera equipment shall be positioned in such location in the court facility as shall be designated by the chief judge of the judicial circuit or district in which such facility is situated. The area designated shall provide reasonable access to coverage. If and when areas remote from the court facility that permit reasonable access to coverage are provided, all television camera and audio equipment shall be positioned only in such area. Videotape recording equipment that is not a component part of a television camera shall be located in an area remote from the court facility.

 

(2) A still camera photographer shall position himself or herself in such location in the court facility as shall be designated by the chief judge of the judicial circuit or district in which such facility is situated. The area designated shall provide reasonable access to coverage. Still camera photographers shall assume a fixed position within the designated area and, once established in a shooting position, shall act so as not to call attention to themselves through further movement. Still camera photographers shall not be permitted to move about in order to obtain photographs of court proceedings.

 

(3) Broadcast media representatives shall not move about the court facility while proceedings are in session, and microphones or taping equipment once positioned as required by subdivision (a)(3) shall not be moved during the pendency of the proceeding.

 

(e) Movement during Proceedings. News media photographic or audio equipment shall not be placed in or removed from the court facility except before commencement or after adjournment of proceedings each day, or during a recess. Neither television film magazines nor still camera film or lenses shall be changed within a court facility except during a recess in the proceeding.

 

(f) Courtroom Light Sources. With the concurrence of the chief judge of a judicial circuit or district in which a court facility is situated, modifications and additions may be made in light sources existing in the facility, provided such modifications or additions are installed and maintained without public expense.

 

(g) Conferences of Counsel. To protect the attorney-client privilege and the effective right to counsel, there shall be no audio pickup or broadcast of conferences that occur in a court facility between attorneys and their clients, between co-counsel of a client, or between counsel and the presiding judge held at the bench.

 

(h) Impermissible Use of Media Material. None of the film, videotape, still photographs, or audio reproductions developed during or by virtue of coverage of a judicial proceeding shall be admissible as evidence in the proceeding out of which it arose, in any proceeding subsequent or collateral thereto, or upon retrial or appeal of such proceedings.

 

(i) Appellate Review. Review of an order excluding the electronic media from access to any proceeding, excluding coverage of a particular participant, or upon any other matters arising under these standards shall be pursuant to Florida Rule of Appellate Procedure 9.100(d).

 

 

 

 

 

References

 

The Florida Bar Reporters Handbook;

 

Reporters Handbook;

 

Judicial Access;

 

Cameras in the Courtroom;

 

Florida Rules of Judicial Administration, (FRJA), Rule 1.540. Technological Coverage of Judicial Proceedings.

 

 

 

 

 

south-florida-corruption-logo
RECORDING-COURT-HEARINGS-photo-Erin-Nealey

Photo courtesy Erin Nealey, via Flickr

RTDNA Cameras in the Courts State By State Guide

 

 

 

 

RTDNA is the nation's leading advocate of opening courtrooms at all levels to electronic media coverage and works with newsroom and court leaders across the country to develop clear and fair rules to allows journalists and judges to best serve the people.

 

To assist members of the media in understanding current court rules and procedures, we have developed the RTDNA Cameras in the Courts State By State Guide. Included here are the most current policies from each state, with links to relevant resources and complete details.

 

gallery/r20110117-camramap