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January 1, 2011
Proposed rules dealing with the use of electronic devices in court

The Rules of Judicial Administration Committee invites comments on proposed new Fla.R.Jud.Admin. 2.451, Use of Electronic Devices, shown below. The full text of the proposal also can be found on The Florida Bar’s website at www.FloridaBar.org. Interested persons have until February 1, 2011, to submit comments electronically to Katherine Eastmoore Giddings, Chair, Rules of Judicial Administration Committee, katherine.giddings@akerman.com, with a copy to the committee liaison, Jodi Jennings, jjenning@flabar.org.

RULE/FORM
VOTE EXPLANATION
2.45125-8Creates new rule governing use of electronic devices in courts.

RULE 2.451. USE OF ELECTRONIC DEVICES

(a) Electronic Devices Defined. Any device capable of making or transmitting still or moving photographs, audio recordings, video recordings or images of any kind, or creating, transmitting, or receiving text or data, and any device capable of capturing or recording sound, including, without limitation, film cameras, digital cameras, video cameras, cameras of any kind, cellular telephones, tape recorders, digital voice recorders, any other type of audio recorders, laptops, personal digital assistants, or other similar technological devices with the ability to make or transmit such video recordings, audio recordings, images, text, or data.

(b) Juror Use of Electronic Devices.

(1) Electronic devices, as that term is defined in subdivision (a), may be removed from all members of a jury panel at any time prior to deliberations, but such electronic devices must be removed from all members of a jury panel before jury deliberations begin. The electronic devices will be removed by the bailiff, unless the chief judge of the circuit determines that another person is more appropriate for that circuit. The electronic devices removed from jurors will be appropriately secured.

(2) The electronic devices removed from members of a jury panel must be returned to the members of the jury panel during recesses in the trial, unless the jurors are sequestered, in which case the presiding judge may determine whether the electronic devices will be kept from the jurors during the entire period of sequestration.

(3) During the trial on which a juror is serving, and during jury deliberations, a juror shall not use electronic devices for any of the following purposes:

(A) making or transmitting still or moving photographs, audio recordings, video recordings or images of any kinds of the court proceedings.

(B) transmitting or receiving text or data during the court proceedings;

(C) transmitting or receiving text or data about the case on which the juror is serving;

(D) researching, sending, or receiving information about the case on which the juror is serving;

(E) otherwise communicating about the case on which the juror is serving; or

(F) otherwise communicating about the jury deliberations.

(4) Nothing in this rule is to be construed to limit or impair the authority of a chief judge or presiding judge to grant permission to a juror to retain his or her electronic device during trial proceedings.

(c) Judges’ Authority.

(1) Chief judges, presiding judges, and quasi-judicial officers retain authority to control the use of electronic devices during judicial proceedings, and may temporarily confiscate, or may direct law enforcement to temporarily confiscate, any electronic device that is being used in a manner that is determined to be disruptive to the judicial proceeding, to be contrary to the orderly administration of justice, to violate the rule of sequestration of witnesses, to interfere with court security, or to violate the privacy rights of litigants, witnesses, or other participants in the judicial proceeding, until the proceeding is concluded.

(2) At the time the device is returned to the owner, the judge or quasi-judicial officer may order the owner of the device to delete any recordings or images taken with the device of the court proceedings prior to its confiscation, or recordings or images that the judge determines should be deleted, to prevent disruption to the judicial proceedings, to preserve the orderly administration of justice, to protect the rule of sequestration of witnesses, to preserve court security, and to preserve the privacy of rights of litigants, witnesses, or other participants in the judicial proceedings. If the owner objects to deleting the recordings or images, the device may be kept by the judge until a hearing can be held on the issue of whether such recording or image is going to be deleted.

(3) Chief judges retain the authority to control the use of electronic devices in any area of the courthouse when the use of such devices would be disruptive to the judicial proceeding, be contrary to the orderly administration of justice, violate the rule of sequestration of witnesses, interfere with court security, or violate the privacy rights of litigants, witnesses, or other participants in the judicial proceeding. Such areas include, but are not limited to, ingress and egress to courtrooms, chambers, and conference rooms, and secure areas adjacent to courthouse entrances.

(4) Chief judges, presiding judges, and quasi-judicial officers may set the parameters for the use of electronic devices in all proceedings, or in a particular proceeding, via administrative orders, standing orders, or orders in a specific case. If any person violates such an order, the judge who entered the order may enforce the order by deleting any recordings or images in accordance with subdivision (c)(1)(B) or under the court’s civil contempt power, or under its criminal contempt power under Florida Rule of Criminal Procedure 3.830.

(5) Nothing in this rule shall be construed to limit or impair the authority of a chief judge, presiding judge, or quasi-judicial officer to exclude any item from the courtroom or the courthouse in order to ensure that judicial proceedings are not disrupted; the orderly administration of justice; enforcement of the rule of the sequestration of witnesses; court security; or the protection of the privacy rights of litigants, witnesses, or other participants in the judicial proceeding.

(d) Exceptions.

(1) The use of electronic devices by professional journalists, as defined in s. 90.5015, Fla. Stat., is governed by Florida Rule of Judicial Administration 2.450.

(2) Nothing in this rule is intended to impede the ability of court personnel or of a court reporter as defined in rule 2.535(a), from using electronic devices to create the official record of a court proceeding.
Committee Note

Due to variations in the design of courthouses, it is not practical to establish statewide rules on the use of electronic devices in areas of ingress and egress to courtrooms. The Chief Judge may establish any restrictions on the use of electronic devices in each court facility by administrative order.

[Revised: 09-18-2014]